The real estate listings on Craigslist can be one of the best places to fall victim to a scam.  The rental listings are typically where you need to be the most careful.  Scammers will post details of current For Sale listings as available rentals.  They pull the details from various sources including local real estate websites and syndicated MLS feeds.  These fraudulent posts will make false claims with the intent to steal your money.

While Craigslist can be a good source for a lot of great deals, it can also be a hornet’s nest of crooks looking to make a quick buck.  There are a few red flags that you need to look for while searching these listings.

The home is listed for sale and for rent.  If you find a property that you are interested in...Google it.  If you see the property listed for sale on other sites, it is more than likely just for sale.  Contact the listing agent immediately, not the number listed on Craigslist. 

The rent is too good to be true.  If the rent seems too low for a giant gorgeous home, it is more than likely a scam.  The price point is set to make you call and ask for details.   

A long story.  There will be a reason that this “awesome” property must be rented immediately.   The contact will have an elaborate story about the owner being out of town for an extended period, the owner is travelling out of the country and cannot be reached, there are some major family problems …you get the point.  Don’t get sucked into an elaborate drama.

The person is unwilling to meet you at the property.  When you call and either the owner of the property or a rental manager is unavailable to show the listing, this is red flag.  If no one can meet you there, do not proceed.

You are asked to wire money.  You should never be asked to wire money, especially before you have had the chance to tour the property with either the owner or the rental manager.   Real property managers generally have potential renters come to a place of business to fill out a credit report, give rental history and sign a legitimate lease before any money is exchanged.

They want your personal information.  If they want any personal information before you have even been to see the property, BEWARE!  Giving out information in advance is not a good idea.  Never authorize a credit check without signing forms, seeing the property and verifying the owner or rental management company.       

If you suspect that you have been a victim contact the police and file a report.  You can flag the post on Craigslist as a scam.  You can also file a report with the Federal Trade Commission.

You can search for legitimate rentals on www.CainRealEstate.com.  You can check the validity of any local real estate company through the Mobile Area Board of Realtors (www.mobilerealtors.com).