Craigslist is probably the most popular site right now when it comes to scam opportunities. Think about the Nigerian prince offering to give you part of his inheritance if you can just help him with those pesky banking regulations. You need to protect yourself and make sure no one takes advantage of you or your property.
One of the most common issues we see is an email that comes through from a prospective tenant about a property you’ve advertised. They’re usually not local. Sometimes they claim to be doing missionary work out of the country, or they’re living somewhere else in the world. They don’t live in your town right now, but they need a property. So they can’t see it or meet you and they want to know if they can rent it without seeing it.
You might get excited about this prospect, because you’re getting an offer without even having to show the home. So, you might say yes but when it’s payment time – that’s what will give you trouble. Someone who is trying to scam you over Craigslist is going to ask you for some kind of reimbursement for an overage they pay you. A bogus check or the promise of a money order comes to you that is greater than you’re asking. For example, if your rent or deposit is $1,000, then they will say they have to send you $3,000 because that’s the minimum their bank will allow them to send a check for. The problem is…the check will likely never clear even after you issue a refund check to these potential renters. Once you realize what’s happened, you won’t be able to track them down.
Stay away from any situations like this. We recommend you avoid giving out banking information to anyone with whom you don’t have an existing relationship. If you’ve never worked with someone before, there is no reason to give them your routing number or checking account number. Protect your personal information and your company information, particularly your tax identification number or your social security number. Leave that information out. You can ask someone to send you a traditional check, and if it’s coming form an overseas bank, tell them that it will take 30 or 60 days before that check clears. Make sure you have good funds before you issue any refunds or reimbursements.
Always interact with your potential renters one on one. Meet them face to face and make sure they are really happy with the property before they sign the lease. Ultimately, if you’re meeting with someone and doing business face to face, there’s a smaller chance of becoming the victim of a scam.
If you have any questions about scams and how to avoid them, please contact us at Mavi Unlimited Property Management. We’d be happy to tell you more.