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Scammers target all rental-listing services, but they particularly target Craigslist. GoSection8 also gets tagged by these fraud artists on occasion. As a tenant searching for a new rental home, you need to protect yourself.
First of all, if you ever suspect fraud in a GoSection8 listing call our Support Team (866-466-7328) and we’ll jump right on it. Before you even search for a rental on GoSection8, you should read our Scam Alert! Section on our front page: http://bit.ly/IM6CJT. Craigslist also has a nice section on keeping yourselves free from scammers: http://bit.ly/hKiy2.
Sometimes the scammers:
- Break into the house, change the locks, advertise it as a rental: http://bit.ly/IBulxu.
- Copy an already existing rental ad, and say they own the place: http://bit.ly/K6mkmr.
- Claim to be resident in another country, need payments made: http://bit.ly/Id7vul.
- Say money must be wired before a contract can be signed: http://bit.ly/J9wnkv.
The more you know about how these scammers operate, the less likely you are to get tricked. This article emphasizes that you must be wary when answering rental ads: http://bit.ly/JXkTFT. Always seek confirmation, through a phone number off a sign or a question asked of a local realtor. Here’s another good tip article on avoiding rental scams: http://bit.ly/IgSt5E.
Landlords Have More to Worry About Besides Scams
While landlords can be the unwitting victims of “cloning” scams where non-owners copy rental ads and attempt to grab deposits, Craigslist also presents them with another challenge: Fair Housing Laws.
One tenant advocacy group recently filed 78 complaints against Craigslist rental advertisers in Michigan (http://bit.ly/JGWh57). The lawsuits resulted in Craigslist creating a warning to rental-unit advertisers telling them not to use phrases such as “Hispanic area,” “perfect for a family” or “Christian home.
Previous court decisions have found that Craigslist is not responsible for ads on its site that violate Fair Housing Laws. The legal responsibility falls on those who create the posts, which usually means landlords. Here’s the disclaimer/warning Craigslist added in the wake of the case: http://bit.ly/Izjple.
More: In New Jersey and Oregon, you can’t discriminate against the unemployed in your ads. California might soon follow suit: http://bit.ly/I9ATBh. ““What we always tell people is to describe the property, not the people who can rent it,” says Nancy Haynes, executive director of the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan.