Neighbors for Neighbors

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Craigslist "fill out a credit report online" apartment scam

Neighbors,

I wanted to post a warning about a Craiglist scam that's been running around the last few months. If you see an apartment that is unusually nice at an unbelievable price and email the person, you may get a reply that asks something like:

"If you would like to set up an appointment, go to the link below and request the free copy of your rental / credit report. We use this company for all the properties we manage. Just fill out the form and indicate that you want the free credit report. The actual scores on the report aren't important to us, it's more of a formality to have it on file, to make sure you are who you say you are.

Get your report here: http://(url changed)"

That "get your report here" is the scam. Credit reports aren't free except those you're allowed by law (one per year.) They're trying to collect all your personal information, including your social security number and bank information, to steal your identity and empty your accounts. The email usually spins some sad story about how they had properties broken into in the past so that's why they won't tell you where the unit is, etc.

Please help warn friends and neighbors who are searching for apartments that they should NEVER fill out anything online "to get an appointment"; no landlord or agent requires you to do so prior to setting up an appointment to view an apartment, and they especially will not ask for your social security number or bank account information.

Also, if a landlord demands ANY money as an "application fee", they're padding their wallet; it costs all of about $5-10 to run a credit report...about 1% of one month's rent for a 2BR these days. Cost of doing business (same goes for attempts to deduct or charge cleaning fees, lock fees, or collect more than one month's security deposit.)

If you come across this scam, please flag the posting. Please also flag postings which indicate a discriminatory preference based on gender/orientation/race/age (it's disappointing that in JP, people readily post ads which discriminate based on gender or orientation), or real estate agents posting in the "by owner" category.

Tips:

-Use the image-search service Tineye (a plugin is available for Firefox which allows you to right-click an image in a webpage.) Very often, the scammer uses the same images in multiple CL cities, making it really obvious that it's a scam.
-Does the reply contain your message text, quoted?
-If it's an agent listing, does it have their phone number, name, and company? Agents almost ALWAYS list all of this, include a suggested search for how to find their other listings, etc. They WANT you to call them!
-Does the reply contain any information you asked for, or does it seem to be a generic reply?
-Are they evasive about the physical address, or their reply to you? Even many agents these days aren't too paranoid about telling a prospective tenant a fairly specific address.

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