I received a call yesterday from a woman who was looking for information about a rental property in Mountain View that she saw on Craigslist. The ad was offering a 4 bedroom/3 bath home in the Gest Ranch neighborhood of Mountain View for $2,000 per month. There was a property address but no further information was given. The ad also included a rental application that was to be submitted via e-mail.
Since there wasn’t much information about the home, the prospective tenant drove to the property to check it out. She saw our Coldwell Banker real estate sign (not realizing that it was a “for sale” sign not a “for rent” sign) and called to get further details and access. That is when I informed her that she almost had her identity taken.
Coldwell Banker does not have a rental in the Gest Ranch neighborhood of Mountain View and if we did, it would not be priced at $2000 per month (market rent is more than double that for a home of that size). What we do have is a home for sale (although it went sale pending immediately) that matches the subject rental property. So what happened?
Someone “hijacked” (took the online photo, address etc.) a new Coldwell Banker listing and entered it into the Craigslist rental database as their own. They were hoping that someone (or better yet, many people) would e-mail a completed rental application and/or someone (or many people) would send them money in the form of a deposit. Once they had the information, they would assume the person’s financial identity and go shopping.
How to protect oneself from online scams?
Things to think about:
Craigslist has its own personal safety tips when using their site. They are:
You can sidestep would-be scammers by following these common-sense rules:
Should you have any questions about the value of you home in today’s market, please contact me directly at 650 917-4250 for a confidential conversation.