Often through Craigslist, searching for a place to live has been challenging at times since I moved to Chico nearly two years ago.
Last summer, the housing crunch that came as a result of the 2018 Camp Fire, combined with the annual demand for student housing, made for a very competitive market.
This time around, though easier than it was one year ago, I’ve noticed a steady number of suspicious posts on Craigslist’s apartments/housing for rent section.
While some posts are more sophisticated than others, there are a few indicators that seem to be consistent with fake housing ads.
First is the price. An ad posted June 19, for example, lists a three-bedroom, two-bathroom ranch style house as $670 to rent. That price is much lower than the average. In fact, you’d be lucky to find a studio apartment in Chico for that price.
Another warning sign is the contact information the poster leaves. Nearly all Craigslist ads have an email address to respond to, but some of these suspicious posts leave a website URL, or ask you to leave your contact information, such as email or a phone number.
In some instances, an ad might even ask you to pay a deposit up front to reserve the place. As a general rule, you should see the place yourself first and talk to an actual person before putting down a deposit.
Also, be aware of the location because in many cases, either no location or a false address, sometimes not even in the correct city you’re searching in, will be listed.
All of these warning signs aren’t an exact science, but may help in identifying a Craigslist housing scam. If you do find one, the post can be flagged and reported on Craigslist, and you can also report it to your local police department.