We hear about Craigslist scams all the time. Just last week, a woman in Florida was arrested after defrauding several potential renters of a few thousand dollars. Frequently, these scams happen entirely online, with someone requesting money or a social security number from another country with the promise of mailing the keys later.

In this case, the woman, a tenant herself, posed as the landlord of the unit she was renting. She then promised the unit to several different parties, and collected security deposits from each of them. The woman disappeared, but the targets realized they were duped when they all attempted to move in to the unit at the same time.

With stories like that in mind, here are some tips for sniffing out scams when browsing Craigslist.

  1. Make sure you sign a lease. Particularly if you’re dealing with a stranger, it’s a good idea to get terms in writing.
  2. Do some research in advance. These days, it’s tough for someone to have no online footprint. See what information you can find out about their professional life so you know you’re dealing with someone legitimate.
  3. Know the laws. We’ve put together handy summaries of state rental laws across the US. Make sure you’re familiar with the basics in your area, especially security deposits and move-in procedures, while you’re looking for your new home.

Once you’ve found a place, Cozy makes it easy to check tenant credit, apply for apartments online, and securely pay rent online for free. If you’re a renter, invite your landlord to start using Cozy for free today.