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How to Avoid Being a Victim of a Craigs List Scam

Legacy Real Estate advertises many apartments and houses on the Craigs List website.  It’s a popular site for many renters to find a new home.  However, before you begin shopping for a new home, here are a few tips to avoid being the victim of a scam dong fang qi mo.

1. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Beware of anything that is too low priced; this is often a red flag.  Does the price of this rental seem to be at the market rent?  If the rent is far lower than other things of similar size, age, and condition, proceed carefully.

2. Review the Ad and the Reply
Does the ad have proper grammar? Advertisements with poor grammar can be a red flag that it may be a scam.  What is the email address of the person you emailed, and the person you got the reply from? Do they match? If the ad says it’s by a company, does the email address match that information?

2. Office space, businss cards, websites
Property managers, leasing companies, and real estate firms will have business cards, a physical office, and a website. We must disclose on our ads that you are calling a leasing company, so our advertisements will say “Legacy Real Estate.”  Again, make sure all information matches what you are being told verbally.

3. Ask to see the leasing agent’s license and ID.
Residential leasing agents, property managers, and brokers associates may be showing property to rent, as well as owners.  Anyone who does not own the property should be licensed with the SD Real Estate Commission.  Ask to see their license and ID.  You can even verifiy that they are licensed at http://dlr.sd.gov/bdcomm/realestate/roster.aspx

4. You can confirm who owns the property
Anyone can call the county’s register of deeds office and confirm who the registered owner of a property is; this is public information.  If someone claims to own the property you are looking at renting, do not be afraid to write their name down, and call to verify this information.

5. Requests for money order or cashiers check in the mail
Many scammers ask you to send a money order or cashiers check to a mailing address out of state or even out of the country.  Don’t be afraid to say no. Legitimate individuals and companies will readily give you their business address, so you can drop off your payment in person.  Get a receipt that clearly says what you paid, and keep your money order receipts for your records.

6. Make sure you see inside the house or apartment
Scammers may know a house is vacant, meet you outside, and claim they forgot the key, but encourage you to make a deposit right now anyway. These people will try to make an emotional appeal to you (act now, or you will lose this great opportuity!).  They may say they have more appointments to show it, so if you want to rent it, you need to act immediately, but if they cannot take you inside the house or apartment, this is another red flag.  Other scammers claim they are missionairies, so cannot meet you, but ask you to send money. Again, this is a red flag.

Unfortunately, there are people out there who will try to take advantage of people. Legacy wants you to be a savvy consumer, from no matter who you rent. We are all looking for a deal, but if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

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