My wife and I are doing a little apartment shopping. Our place is fine enough, but we thought we might want to add little space... plus the rents have gone down a bit in Silicon Valley and we feel we can get more for our money. I particularly like Craig's List for this purpose because we can cyber-stalk a few places to get an idea of the market.
An interesting thing happened last Saturday night when I did my Craig's List search. A 2600 square foot, 4 bedroom house in Redwood City came up at $1700. This is in contrast to the two bedroom, 1100 sq. ft. place we have now at $2075 a month. The advertisement was simply too good to be true. Nonetheless, I figure it can't hurt to ask. Here's the response I got:
Thank you for contacting us about the property. The property is still available as of now. We are trying to find a tenant for this property ASAP, first-come-first-serve basis. Move-in date is negotiable.
We are a group of real estate investors. We have many rental properties available with great lease term. In order to handle large amount of inquiries as quickly as possible, we ask you to follow our process.
We only deal with possible tenants who can provide us with their own credit report. We have learned over the years that by doing some pre-screening up front we save great deal of time. This is how we can offer you lower than market rent and still be able to profit. We think this is a win-win for all parties involved. You will not be disqualified as long as you don't have any major real estate related problem on your credit report.
If you already have a recent report we may be able accept that, as long as it contains the information that we are looking for. It has to be taken within the last 30 days (no exception there) from a reputable company. Otherwise please go to our investor tools page at http://www.dsproperties.info/4694.html and follow the credit report link there. We prefer their report and it will process fastest with us. They have free trial.
Contact us back only after you obtained the actual report. Be sure to include the ID below in your follow-ups. Then we'll have the investor in charge of this property contact you. You are to bring the credit report and the rental application (which is also on the investor tools page) directly to the investor at the time of showing. Do not email or mail sensitive information for privacy/security reason.
Can you spot the scam? If you are a personal finance blogger, I bet you can. If you go to the link they provide, they are an affiliate for FreeCreditReport.com. That means that they earn a few bucks from everyone they can convince to sign up and join the service. How can FreeCreditReport.com offer this? In order to get your "free" credit report, you have to agree to sign up for some services at a monthly fee. If you are on top of things, you can cancel the services right away... but there's enough people who let it slip to make it profitable. It's a little bit like rebate breakage in that way.
I wrote them back with my Credit Karma score (which really is free - no strings attached). Funny, but they didn't respond to me. It's probably because the deal that was too good to be true actually was.
21 Responses to “A Brilliant Craig’s List Scam (Beware of DS Properties)”
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