Craigslist Rental Scams and How To Avoid Them

In this post, I want to discuss Craigslist rental scams and how to avoid them.

Craigslist is a classified advertisement website that was founded in 1995 by Craig Newmark. It has sections such as housing, services, community service, etc.

craigslist rental scams and how to avoid them

How safe is Craigslist?

Craigslist used to be a wonderful and safe online platform to find houses for rent.

To be fair Craigslist have instituted some controls and security features to try to control and prevent fraud.

Unfortunately, scammers still manage to post classified ads on rentals and other things.

The problem of Craigslist rental scams is so big that it would be careless of anyone to not put that in mind when going through the ads.

This is not just true of Craigslist but other online platforms. You need to keep your eyes open when you are dealing with strangers as scammers have infiltrated these online platforms.

I remember a few days ago I was looking for something and I went to one of the well-known social media sites.

There I met someone who was offering some services and claimed to be from one country.

However, when I investigated his profile I discovered that he was from another country known for all sorts of frauds and scams.

So my advice is, keep your eyes open always. Otherwise, you may lose your hard-earned cash.

Before I address the scams I just wanted to present to you some commonsense tips that you can follow to avoid being scammed.

craigslist housing scams and how to avoid them

How do I stop getting scammed on Craigslist Apartments?-How to Tell if a Rental is Legitimate

1. Do not rush and Do Not Be Rushed

Most people who fall victim to Craigslist rental scammers are usually people in a hurry to find a place to rent.

When you are in a hurry you fail to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself.

Therefore don’t be in a hurry take your time to analyze everything.

You can do this by making sure that, if possible, you physically view all the properties you are being offered.

One also needs to get to know the person who is offering you any property.

It is much better to meet the property owner or estate agent in person if you can.

Alternatively, call them and not just rely on emails. Most scammers prefer to use emails.

2. Be protective of your personal information

Do not release your personal information until you are very sure of the person you are dealing with.

If a landlord is demanding a lot of personal information before you have even talked to them or viewed the property be wary.

This is especially true if the landlord is asking for a credit report upfront or even an application fee before viewing the property.

Never send them money before you have seen the property itself unless you are dealing with a company that is well known and established.

Even where the company is established the normal practice is for the tenant to view the property first.

3. Google the Property! Beware of Fake Photos!

With Google Maps you can easily find out more about almost any property. You can then compare it with the photos that the advertiser has provided.

If they differ then watch out and investigate further or just move on to other ads.

You can also take time to compare rentals for your property with other properties in that street.

In most cases, a street will have more or less similar properties and therefore the rentals should be more or less the same.

If they differ it could be that it is a scam. If you live in the same area then go there physically to view the area and the property.

4. If its too good to be true then it probably is

Keep your eyes open when searching for properties.

If you suspect that an ad is offering some “out of this world” information then it probably is something you should not believe as it could be from a scammer.

5. Verify the owner

Fraudsters will pretend to be the owner of a property when they are not.

If you fall for it you could end up losing your security deposit and first month’s rent which are given in advance nowadays.

You can do this by visiting websites for cities and counties where you can search for owners of properties.

There are also some things you can do beside visiting these sites.

As already pointed out you can visit the property just to check if it actually being offered for rent.

If it is still occupied you can if possible contact the occupants to find out if the house is available for rent.

By doing these things you will avoid being scammed.

6. The Landlord is not asking for security deposit etc

It is common practice for landlords or estate agents to demand security deposit and one month rent in advance.

Therefore if the advertiser is not asking for a security deposit, then it might be a scam.

A landlord is within his right to dangle some carrots such as free cable but if it is large you better scrutinize it properly.

7. No photos on the ad

If an ad does not have a photo or any images then you need to beware.

In this day and age when almost everyone has a smartphone with a camera, one would expect any advertiser to include photos.

However, if you still wish to proceed at least ask the advertiser to upload some photos.

If the advertiser sends photos directly to you then take the necessary steps to scan the sent file for viruses.


If you are looking for an apartment, Craigslist can help you to connect with potential landlords. You, however, have to be aware of Craigslist’s rental scams and how you can avoid them.

I hope the points raised in the preceding paragraphs will help you avoid getting scammed.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I report a rental scammer?

  • There are two ways you can report a housing or apartment rental scammer. To begin, call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357)
  • or visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant.