Beware of craigslist rental scams, police say

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A new twist on rental scams using craigslist has surfaced in Salem, Ore., police say.

Vancouver police spokeswoman Kim Kapp said she hadn’t heard of it happening here, but it’s possible it happened but wasn’t reported to police.

In Salem, at least two folks responded to craigslist ads offering rentals, one a house and the other a condo.

Both prospective renters then received email saying that, before being shown the homes, they needed to submit to an online credit check, according to a police bulletin. The emails contained links to two websites.

One person went to one of the websites and filled out the application with “Social Security number and other information that would be of value to an identity thief,” the bulletin said.

Next, “This link became inactive and the victim received a similar email the next day from a different party, but requesting the same information.”

The victim stopped there and told police that the website looked very professional.

The other person figured it was a scam and tried, unsuccessfully, to contact the alleged scammers.

Typically, folks wishing to rent a property are given a time to view it, and any credit checks would come later, after the rental application is filed, the bulletin said.

So how suspicious should folks be as they try to rent homes and conduct other business in a world filled with deceit?

Perhaps they should remember the words of Inspector Clouseau from the Pink Panther movies: “I suspect no one, and I suspect everyone.”

John Branton: 360-735-4513 or john.branton@columbian.com.