Most local classifieds are posted by honest people and are safe to use. Yet, as online scammers are becoming more widespread and creative with their tactics, consumers need to be aware of how to protect themselves and their families.
- Staying safe in classifieds
- Reporting a listing
- Tips For Everyone
- Tentants / Renters guide
- Landlords, Estate Agents, Property Managers/Agents Advertisers guide
- Important Safety Tips
Staying safe in classifieds.
It’s easy to stay safe when you pay attention to the warning signs.
However, you are crucial in helping us take down bad posters, as well as helping us learn more about the latest scams. If you see a suspicious listing, you should report it to us (see below). With help from enough people, we can remove the suspicious users.
Report listings that seem like they might be fraud, spam, or engaging in other illegal activities, such as discrimination or trademark violations.
Tips for everyone.
“Do it in person and do it in public.”
If you follow this mantra, you should be safe. But sometimes a scammer will have a convincing scam up their sleeve, which is why you should also follow these additional precautions. Be extra cautious of people who make up reasons for why they suddenly can’t meet in person and pressure you to decide fast.
Potential Tenants / Renters
- Never send or accept any payment before seeing the place and meeting the landlord.
- Don’t send money to someone you haven’t met in person
- through Western Union or Moneygram
- through wire transfer
- to foreign countries
Landlords, Estate Agents, Property Managers/Agents
- Beware of checks. It takes a few weeks for your bank to notify you that you deposited a fake check. It’s best to go to the bank with the renter and get a cashier’s check issued in person.
- Never accept extra payment with complicated excuses.
- Never send a portion of the money back to the renter.
How do I report a suspicious message?
If you think the other person is doing something suspicious, you can forward their email to us and we will look into it.
Tentants / Renters guide.
Ask questions. When you first contact a landlord by phone or email, express your interest and ask any questions you may have. Ask to see digital photos as well.
Limit personal information. Limit the amount of information you share about yourself (for example, don’t give out your home phone or address and remove personal information from your email sig file). However, after the landlord has answered some questions and seems credible, you may need to disclose more information about yourself such as your name and cell phone number (but keep it limited to that).
Establish the credibility of the landlord. In addition to communicating over email, we recommend talking to the landlordr by phone before meeting them.
If the landlord seems evasive or suspicious, or makes you uncomfortable at any point during the initial contact process, do not continue to pursue the transaction.
- Meet in a public place if possible – during the daytime when other people will be around.
Bring a friend.
If the landlord seems evasive or suspicious, or makes you uncomfortable at any point during the meeting, simply excuse yourself.
- Protect your personally identifiable information. Don’t give out your social security number, bank numbers, credit card numbers, etc. If someone like a landlord asks for your social security number, give them a copy of your credit report instead, with your social security number blacked out.
Landlords, Estate Agents, Property Managers/Agents Advertisers guide.
Be descriptive, use photos. Describe your rental as accurately as possible so potential renters don’t become irritated if the rental is not as expected. Include photos to give an idea of the appearance and condition of the home
Limit personal information. When posting your classified ad, use an email address that does not personally identify you (for example use a Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo email rather than a work or home email). If you use a phone number, use your cell number instead of your home phone.
- Be direct and respond to potential renters, answering questions and also finding out any information that may help inform the person to whom you are selling or renting.
Answer questions. Respond to any interested renter over email and/or by phone to answer his or her questions and to determine whether he or she is someone with whom you want to do business. Try to get a sense of his or her overall credibility and trustworthiness to see if you want to move forward.
Limit personal information. Don’t disclose any personally identifiable information, like where you work, until you feel comfortable with the other person.
If a renter seems to act suspicious or raises any red flags during preliminary contact, trust your instincts and walk away from the deal.
- Remove listing when rented out. For common courtesy and to avoid angering potential renters, once your listing is taken, be sure to remove your classified ad and contact any interested renters so they don’t waste their time coming to see it.
- If a renter seems evasive or suspicious, or makes you uncomfortable at any point during the meeting, walk away (or ask them to leave if they are at your house)
Important Safety Tips
- Always see the place in person before renting.
- Be cautious of people claiming to be overseas.
- Don’t wire money or take advance payments.