BBB: Classified Sites Could be a Breeding Ground for Scams 9/26/12
Better Business Bureau
September 26, 2012
PERMIAN BASIN, Texas — In the past 12 months, Better Business Bureau has received close to 200 complaints nationally from consumers who have been scammed in some way after responding to a classified on Craigslist. BBB warns consumers to be cautious when responding to a classified posted on Craigslist, especially a job or home rental posting.
Fake job postings and home rental scams are two of the most common issues reported to BBB. They typically work like this:
1. The Online Rental Scam:
After responding to an online classified for a rental property, victims say the ‘landlord’ asks them to wire the deposit and first month’s rent in order to receive the keys to the rental home. When the victim asks to view the property in-person, the ‘landlord’ often claims to be out of the country and unable to show the house. Typically, scammers use pictures of homes taken from real estate websites in the fake postings.
2. The Fake Job Posting Scam:
The goal of this type of scam is to steal money or personal information from job seekers. Scammers usually target those looking to work from home, looking for a second job or looking for part-time employment. There are two common versions of the job scam:
1. The scam artist claims that all paychecks and reimbursements must be made via direct deposit. Therefore, the consumer must provide all of his or her personal information, including Social Security numbers and bank routing numbers.
2. The scammer sends the victim a check to cover job materials or expenses and directs the victim to deposit the money into his or her personal bank account. The scammer will instruct the victim to deposit a portion of the funds to cover his or her salary and then send the remaining funds on to another designated account. The check is usually fake, but the victim’s bank may take some time to discover the fraud. The victim is then liable for the total amount of the original check and may be prosecuted for check fraud.
The following red flags indicate you might be dealing with someone using Craigslist to defraud people:
· The employer/landlord is from another country.
· The employer/landlord will not meet with you and will only communicate electronically.
· The employer/landlord overpays and asks you to wire the extra funds back to him/her.
BBB offers these safety tips when using classified sites:
· Never wire money.
· Consider using an escrow service. Escrow services add additional protection. Make sure to check out the company’s BBB Business Review first at www.bbb.org.
· Never give out your Social Security number, personal financial information or any other type of personally identifying information to people you do not know.
· Be cautious of jobs that require any kind of up-front payment.
· Apartment or home rentals should be thoroughly checked out and inspected in person before putting down any money.
To check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit bbb.org.