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Today, I responded to a couple of Craigslist ads for rentals in the heart of Manhattan, NYC, where I currently live. The rent advertised is about half of what I currently pay, so naturally I am suspicious — perhaps around this time of COVID-19, many scams are designed to take advantage of people struggling for money.

Anyway, I got responses from both ad posters, both of them give a brief "what is your phone number" / "what is your contact number", which seems weird — couldn't they have just given me their phone number on their email reply to me? They didn't address me by name, nor did they sign the email reply with theirs.

Here it is, copied and pasted:

Yes...... If interested, please reply with your contact number.

and

Do u have phone number so I'll send you details. Thanks

If it's a scam, what can they do with my phone number?

Thanks.

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  • I haven't used Craigslist in ages. Is your email address revealed to these potential scammers? – Rodrigo de Azevedo Dec 2 '20 at 2:02
  • @RodrigodeAzevedo yes, I used my real gmail account, when I perhaps should've used a gmail account set up specifically to search for housing. Do you think I'm in much danger, having revealed my email to them? Their asking for my phone number, without asking about my job / income, interests, education, etc. seems very strange; they should've just given me their phone number and first name, if it were legitimate. – user104333 Dec 2 '20 at 2:10
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    At your Gmail account, is 2FA enabled? They may be trying to access your Gmail. On a less somber note, when you bought your phone, you may have used your debit card, which means that your phone number may be much more coupled to your identity than your email address. Revealing something about your identity shows a certain level of commitment. Asking for phone number could be used to scare flakes away. – Rodrigo de Azevedo Dec 2 '20 at 2:51
  • Of course there is a possible legitimate explanation: they want to talk to you when they want, not have you call them at possibly inconvenient times. I can relate to this, though my practice is to only deal via email, at least initially. – jamesqf Dec 2 '20 at 3:20
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    It's a good idea to have an auxiliary E-mail address for dealing with anything that isn't friends, family, business, etc. Use it for signing up to web sites for info etc. and questionable situations like this one. Only provide you primary E-mail to verified connections. – Bob Baerker Dec 2 '20 at 3:45
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Two red flags, craigslist and an unexpectedly low price. Yes it is a potential scam, but there isn't enough information to say one way or the other.

The phone number thing doesn't hint at a scam to me necessarily. I guess it could be one more yellow flag if it isn't a local number.

Just don't give them any personal information or money without proof they own the place. Just having a key to the front door is not proof.

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    Thanks so much, JohnFx. Also another red / yellow flag: several of these postings say, "no security deposit", which I find to be simply too good to be true. One has to protect their property by holding some security deposit. I think these potential scammers are fooling people who are desperate for a quick deal, during the Covid-19 pandemic. I won't respond to them. Thanks again ... – user104333 Dec 2 '20 at 2:19
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    As a landlord myself, that is EXTREMELY suspicious. I'd ignore those ads. – JohnFx Dec 2 '20 at 2:49

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