Too Good To Be True Rental Listing Leads To Credit Score Scam

We’ve been getting a few emails about a new kind of rental scam where they try to lure you into giving over your credit card and personal information to a “free credit score” site. One was from Reader Benjamin, who was looking for a house to rent when he and his wife stumbled across a too good to be true deal, a fully-furnished 3-bedroom house in Maryland for only $1200. Seeing as they had nothing to lose, they emailed the lister, just to see what would happen.

“I got a very prompt response from a guy who said he had just ‘suffered a divorce’ and was returning to Cambridge, England and wanted someone who would take good care of his house. The poor grammar and several typos made us more convinced it was a scam, but we sent him another message asking if we could do a walkthrough, to test him,” writes Benjamin.

Then he got an email back from a woman this time who said she would set up a walkthrough and no background check or application fee was required, the only requirement was that they had to have a credit score over 500. Oh, and here’s a link for a free credit score site.

“Just print out the first three pages and bring it to the walkthrough,” wrote the woman. ” You have to get your credit score through that site; I want serious customers only, not window shoppers.”

Having avoided what was probably a phishing scam where they steal your credit card and your identity, Benjamin and his wife are looking for other houses now.

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  1. Invader Zim says:

    Glad this wasnt another story where the victim just stepped right in the poo even though they could smell the poo. Good for them,

  2. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Was it a legitimate credit score website, or some no-name or iteration of freecreditscore78574245.com?

    Also, just get a credit score from a legitimate location, and say you’re ready for the walkthrough (or lie and say you got one).

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Ha! Re-reading, I see that it required you to use that site. Definitely a scam.

    • Caggeyder says:

      Yeah, the email directed to creditscore.com or something like that. I printed mine out from Equifax.

  3. Caggeyder says:

    “Then he got an email back from a woman this time who said she would set up a walkthrough and no background check or application fee was required, the only requirement was that they had to have a credit score over 500. Oh, and here’s a link for a free credit score site.

    “Just print out the first three pages and bring it to the walkthrough,” wrote the woman. ” You have to get your credit score through that site; I want serious customers only, not window shoppers.”

    I got an email like that last week, word for word. For kicks and giggles, I printed out mine, but after I sent her the email saying I’d like to see the apartment, she stopped replying. I was really bummed out it was a scam, the apartment looked really nice.

    • Pax says:

      I got an email like that last week, word for word. For kicks and giggles, I printed out mine, but after I sent her the email saying I’d like to see the apartment, she stopped replying. I was really bummed out it was a scam, the apartment looked really nice.

      If you used their site … congratulations, you gave your entire identity away.

      Time to cancel all your credit cards. ALL of them. Also, time to hire a credit monitoring service to watch your credit score like hawks. :(

      • Caggeyder says:

        I’m not that stupid, see my reply.

        “Yeah, the email directed to creditscore.com or something like that. I printed mine out from Equifax.”

        • operator207 says:

          He isn’t either, the part about you using Equifax isn’t in this post, it’s in a reply to another post. If he did not turn on the “expand replies” function of this site, he never saw you going to Equifax.

          • Caggeyder says:

            Why would you/Pax assume that I’d go to that site though? If there is anything I learned from reading this blog is not give out credit information to suspicious sites.

            • Pax says:

              I reply to what is written; I don’t like to assume anything. And what you wrote is:

              “Just print out the first three pages and bring it to the walkthrough,” wrote the woman. ” You have to get your credit score through that site; I want serious customers only, not window shoppers.”

              I got an email like that last week, word for word. For kicks and giggles, I printed out mine, […]

              (Emphasis mine.)

              • Caggeyder says:

                Which I know to only get from Equifax.

                /over and out

                • Pax says:

                  … except, you didn’t write that in the post I was responding to. So don’t be so surprised that I’m not a long-distance mind reader, and therefor, didn’t know anything except what you did write in that post.

  4. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    It smells like the domain apprasial scam. Someone will email saying that they will pay good money for your domain name – but they want it appraised first by the xyz domain appraisal website. Once you pay the appraisal company they are no longer interested in buying your domain – and you are out $100-$200.

  5. sirwired says:

    For me, the biggest red flag would be the fact you only need a credit score of only 500… Unless you are actively in bankruptcy, you’ll probably have a credit score over 500. (98% of the population has a score over 500.) I cannot imagine people showing up with a sub-500 score would be a major problem for anybody…

    • FireJayPa says:

      I agree, should have thrown out a more likely number like I dunno 650-700 range

    • Jesse in Japan says:

      Not to mention that if they’re trying to unload the house for 1,200 dollars, credit shouldn’t be an issue in the first place.

    • El Matarife says:

      You would have to be dumb to fall for this scam. People who are dumb tend to not know how to budget their spending, leading to a lower credit score in the long term. If you said “must be over 700″ you are limiting yourself from accessing a large supply of stupidity.

      • BurtReynolds says:

        In college I worked a job as a CSR for a local store and one Sunday afternoon I was working with one other woman and she asked me what she should do about this email she received. It was about inheritence that she didn’t know about and she needed to send information to the sender so she could get her money.

        I asked if she had any idea who the sender was…”No”. I told her in the nicest way possible it was a scam and to delete emails like that. She was seriously considering responding to it. I wonder how many others do the same.

  6. phira says:

    This almost happened to me, actually, a year ago. I was looking for an apartment, and while I always skipped over the CL ads that sounded too good to be true, my mom and my boyfriend at the time both insisted I check out one of the ads. I did, and was surprised when the person who contacted me asked me to check my credit score. I’ve had credit checks before renting other places, but none where I had to go through a website.

    The website didn’t work properly and looked scammy, so I took a personal finance book that I had, skimmed through it, found their recommendations for credit report sites, and tried one of the main ones (I forget which). I then emailed the (fake) realtor back, giving her my credit score, which was excellent. Less than an hour later, I was told that the apartment was no longer available.

    INTERESTING.

  7. sonneillon says:

    Also have to watch out for application fee scams. Where they pretend to own a vacant place and they just set the price wicked low charge several people 50-100 dollar application fees and walk away after a couple of weeks.

    • Karita says:

      My friend had a house for sale, and that happened to him. The people took the MLS listing photos and pretended to be looking for tenants. He was furious, because there was really nothing he could do to stop it. And I’m a bit worried, as I ended up being the one who bought the house from him!

      Here in New England, it’s pretty easy to figure out many of the scam rental houses. They never list an actual town, the price is awesome, and the lawns shown in the photos always have PALM TREES. My friend’s situation was tough, though, because it was an actual home, with an actual address that people could drive by to check out. I feel bad for anyone that got caught up in it.

  8. jvanbrecht says:

    I sort of disagree with those who stated that the price alone should point to a scam. While the rest of the communication is definitely a red flag for a scam.

    I happen to live in MD, and guess what, while I have a crappy ARM (bought at the peak of the market), with the crappy economy, my arm reset and my mortgage dropped significantly, to around to around the same price (could be more, could be less, I’m not going to tell what I actually pay) as the OP was quoted for the rental.

    And since the wife hates the area, and really wants to leave, and there is no chance of me selling the house for what I currently owe on it, the only option is to rent, and I am not looking for a profit, just to cover the mortgage, so there would be an equally low priced rental ad sometime in the future. The difference of course is that it won’t be fully furnished or include utilities.

    The point I am trying to make of course, is that just because the price is low, does not necessarily mean its a scam. Everything else, 500 credit score or more (like hell, I will require atleast a 700) from a specific site, crappy grammar (mine may suck, but my wifes an editor, she will write the ad heh..) is definitely out there in scam territory

    • Pax says:

      Don’t “just cover the mortgage” …!

      What if something needs to be repaired? That’s YOUR problem, and more importantly, YOUR expense.

      Your best bet is to talk to a rental agency, and let them handle it – maintenance included. Tell them you’re not interested in a great deal of profit, and ask them what THEY think the minimum-profit rent would need to be, to leave everything in their hands.

      Besides, why not make a modest profit on it?

      • bwcbwc says:

        Not to mention that property taxes are higher on rental property because you lose any “primary residence” exemptions.

    • BurtReynolds says:

      Depends on where in MD it is.

      Montgomery County? $1200 for a 3 bedroom anything is a red flag. It is either a scam or a dump.

  9. anewmachine615 says:

    The Consumerist, always on the cutting edge (of scams that’ve been around for at least 2 years on Craigslist). Though back then it was that they had left the country to do oil prospecting in West Africa, or missionary work in England (of all places, why England?). Should I send in my emails with the scammers? I’ve got to have at least two dozen…

  10. Wang_Chung_Tonight says:

    wow.

    if you’re really going to document all these there will 500 more posts a day.

  11. BuyerOfGoods3 says:

    People are doing the same thing with Job Postings — Obvious scam.

  12. etcalledme says:

    While looking for apartments, I’ve encountered this several times. If you offer to bring a credit report from equifax, they tell you that you have to use that site. There’s never a specific address listed for the property, and the emailer never gives you an non-email contact information. The woman’s name is always “Anna” in the one’s I get. It’s a really frustrating scam….

  13. Wolfie XIII says:

    I saw this scam in Seattle, except the guy and his family were going to Nigeria to work for shell oil and they wanted god fearing people to take care of their house.

  14. wildcardjack says:

    I found a great rental listing on Craigslist that didn’t specify what part of Dallas the property was in. I thought the person had just flubbed the listing and sent a request for location.

    I was returned a “Hurry up we just had someone else withdraw from the contract you might not be able to get this if you don’t get your background check to us immediately” email. It contained a link to a background check company that does an affiliate program, but nothing about location.

    I saw through this scam in 10 seconds, a quick bait and never be heard from again but they get their affiliate reward.

    What’s really bad is I considered imitating them. Would have been so easy.

  15. littlestar22 says:

    This just happened to me 2 days ago. The ad had a short description with “serious tenants only”. The pictures were nice. 3bdrm/3bth house in Cupertino, CA for $1660/mth. That is a steal, but I suspect that it was too good to be true. Luckily, one of us just got a credit score recently and I asked her if that would suffice. I haven’t heard from her and was about to email for a follow-up until I saw this article! The Ad was removed.

    Here is the response: From a “Christel Canning” (christelcanning@yahoo.com):

    “Hi ___. I thought I had this property rented to a younger couple the other day but they haven’t been returning my calls. Since I posted the ad you are the first person to contact me about the property.

    The property is move-in ready and I will rent it to the first person who signs a lease. I offer 3 month, 6 month and 12 month leases. The first months rent, the cleaning fee, and any pet fees are due at that time. If you’re not yet out of your current lease that is acceptable. The property will remain vacant until you’re ready to move in.

    So you know, I do not conduct a background check or charge an application fee. However to qualify as a tenant you must have a credit score above 500. You can obtain your score for free Here. Print the first few pages and bring them to the viewing.

    If you do not bring a copy of your credit report from the above site to the viewing I will not show you the property. I apologize but I’m looking for serious tenants only and not window shoppers. To schedule a viewing just respond to this email. I’m available any time after 10am this week.

    Talk to you soon .
    Christel Canning”

    A couple of things were suspicious:
    1) It was a pasted block text.
    2) Credit score and credit report are 2 different things, she mentioned both.
    3) Googled her name – nothing came up.

  16. littlestar22 says:

    This just happened to me 2 days ago. The ad had a short description with “serious tenants only”. The pictures were nice. 3bdrm/3bth house in Cupertino, CA for $1660/mth. That is a steal, but I suspect that it was too good to be true. Luckily, one of us just got a credit score recently and I asked her if that would suffice. I haven’t heard from her and was about to email for a follow-up until I saw this article! The Ad was removed.

    Here is the response: From a “Christel Canning” (christelcanning@yahoo.com):

    “Hi ___. I thought I had this property rented to a younger couple the other day but they haven’t been returning my calls. Since I posted the ad you are the first person to contact me about the property.

    The property is move-in ready and I will rent it to the first person who signs a lease. I offer 3 month, 6 month and 12 month leases. The first months rent, the cleaning fee, and any pet fees are due at that time. If you’re not yet out of your current lease that is acceptable. The property will remain vacant until you’re ready to move in.

    So you know, I do not conduct a background check or charge an application fee. However to qualify as a tenant you must have a credit score above 500. You can obtain your score for free Here. Print the first few pages and bring them to the viewing.

    If you do not bring a copy of your credit report from the above site to the viewing I will not show you the property. I apologize but I’m looking for serious tenants only and not window shoppers. To schedule a viewing just respond to this email. I’m available any time after 10am this week.

    Talk to you soon .
    Christel Canning”

    A couple of things were suspicious:
    1) It was a pasted block text.
    2) Credit score and credit report are 2 different things, she mentioned both.
    3) Googled her name – nothing came up.

  17. littlestar22 says:

    This just happened to me 2 days ago. The ad had a short description with “serious tenants only”. The pictures were nice. 3bdrm/3bth house in Cupertino, CA for $1660/mth. That is a steal, but I suspect that it was too good to be true. Luckily, one of us just got a credit score recently and I asked her if that would suffice. I haven’t heard from her and was about to email for a follow-up until I saw this article! The Ad was removed.

    Here is the response: From a “Christel Canning” (christelcanning@yahoo.com):

    “Hi ___. I thought I had this property rented to a younger couple the other day but they haven’t been returning my calls. Since I posted the ad you are the first person to contact me about the property.

    The property is move-in ready and I will rent it to the first person who signs a lease. I offer 3 month, 6 month and 12 month leases. The first months rent, the cleaning fee, and any pet fees are due at that time. If you’re not yet out of your current lease that is acceptable. The property will remain vacant until you’re ready to move in.

    So you know, I do not conduct a background check or charge an application fee. However to qualify as a tenant you must have a credit score above 500. You can obtain your score for free Here. Print the first few pages and bring them to the viewing.

    If you do not bring a copy of your credit report from the above site to the viewing I will not show you the property. I apologize but I’m looking for serious tenants only and not window shoppers. To schedule a viewing just respond to this email. I’m available any time after 10am this week.

    Talk to you soon .
    Christel Canning”

    A couple of things were suspicious:
    1) It was a pasted block text.
    2) Credit score and credit report are 2 different things, she mentioned both.
    3) Googled her name – nothing came up.