Privacy, Members Only Jackets & Craigslist

I originally wrote this post for a real-estate industry blog I post to occasionally, but thought it might be appropriate here, as well. 

In all likelihood, most of us have used sites like Craigslist before, whether we were looking for a place for a customer or a sweet Members Only
jacket – wait, is it just me that wants a Members Only jacket? My bad.
The one in this picture sure looks nice, especially with the blue
hoodie underneath.

A staff member in my office this morning sent out an email warning
of a housing scam she had uncovered while searching for a place for her
and her family to rent. She had uncovered a single-family house for
rent here in Blacksburg, at a great monthly rate, but she also knew the
house was for sale in our local MLS for $300,000+. When she contacted
the email address listed on the posting, the person responded by asking
questions that violated all sorts of Fair Housing rules,
including asking her age and her religion, among others. The emailer
claimed to be the owner of the house, and that they would be requiring
two months rent with the application.

So what, right? Just a scam? Sure, just a scam, but the reason I bring it up here is because the posting had MLS pictures of the house right there in the ad – both interior and exterior photos were used. The exact street address was used. And it’s likely that this staff member wasn’t the first person to contact about such a low rent for such a great house.

The point – be careful. The TRUE owners of this
home were not aware their home was getting unwanted attention based on
this scam ad. They had no idea someone was advertising their home and
location for sale, or who might have been driving by. It’s no
indictment against their listing agent, who immediately notified them
so that they could have the ad removed from Craigslist. Instead, it’s a
reminder to constantly be aware that the distribution of
information is a benefit to all of us, but we also need to monitor what’s being put online as well.  You never know who’s watching.

Photo credit: Bradley J

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