If you've ever bought and sold anything online, especially if you used to frequent Craigslist, you are all too familiar with scammers. This morning I was reading on a NextDoor thread about a woman a few streets over who had her home listed For Sale By Owner (it was not actually for sale) and I decided to do a little research. The whole ordeal was a nightmare for her, and although it seems to have been solved within 24 hours, I can only imagine the panic getting a text from a friend "I didn't know you were moving!".
How It Works: Essentially, what happens is they get access to the ownership (online) of your home on sites like Zillow, to where they can post on your behalf. They have done research on you and your home by the time it ever gets listed, so they will usually have your name in the ad somewhere, connected to an email or a burner phone number.
Next they post it, For Sale By Owner, with a story that usually puts them just moving out of the country and in need to sell the house immediately, or they are rich and sell these homes off to first time buyers (targeting: the most desperate and inexperienced buyers), or who knows what, BUT, what you can count on is that they've had tons of interest and in order to secure your spot you have to send a small deposit. That is always, always a red flag of any sort.
What You Can Do: Claim your home on sites like Zillow. They will ask you a couple questions, and when you answer them correctly you gain ownership of it online. Also, check your home's online presence every so often. It's never a bad thing to do, aside from just checking the value.
Even in a digital age like the one in which we live, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Until next week,