- Fake posts instructing a would-be tenant to purchase a credit report: The scammer gets a commission from the credit reporting site, even though there is no property for rent.
- Duplicate rental listings from other sites: Scammers post the same listing on Craigslist at a lower price. Prospective renters pay a deposit via wire transfer.
- "Realtor service” companies: Scam targets are asked to pay fees to access listings of pre-foreclosure rentals or rent-to-own properties. In the majority of cases, the companies leading the scams have no connection to the properties listed.
If you are using Craigslist to search for rentals, Dixon says never wire money or use a prepaid debit card to pay a deposit before you've seen the property in person. If you can't visit an apartment or house yourself, ask someone you trust to go check it out.
Watch out for listings that seem too affordable compared to other rentals in the area. Dixon says scammers try to catch your attention by offering low rent. And search for the listing online. If you find the same ad listed in other cities, that's a red flag.
For more information, visit www.bbb.org.