Ways to See If a Housing Ad is Legitimate


Most landlords or host families that house J-1 participants are good people. However there are scammers who will try to cheat you out of your money.
The majority of scammers are found on Craigslist. If you respond to a post or if a person responds to your post, there are some step you can take to protect yourself.
When you are e-mailed about housing, please ask the person for the address of the property. Then, go to

Cape Field Cards

Select the town of your employer.

Step One

You should come to a page that looks similar to this one. Find the search button and click on it.

Step Two

Enter the street number of the home and the street name in the yellow areas and click search. You will then see the name of the current owner of the home. Click on the Adobe PDF icon under “Card PDF”

 Step Three

In the upper left corner, you will again see the owner’s name and the address of the property. Are the owner’s name and the name of the person in the e-mail the same? If they are not, reply to the e-mail and ask why the owner’s name on the field card is different. If there is no response in a reasonable amount of time, you were most likely e-mailed by a scammer. If you get a response that says the owner is the landlord, ask for a letter from the landlord that it is ok for you to be living in the home. If the property is a condo, ask for a letter from the condo association that it is fine for you to be living in the home. If in a reasonable amount of time, a letter is not e-mailed to you, this is a scam. If the person identifies himself as a Realtor, please see the section on Realtor Scams below.Other areas to check on this card are under the section “Building” and then the subsection “Description”. Make sure that under this area it says “Residential” or “Comm./Res”. If it only says “Commercial”, it is an illegal rental. Next look for “Building”, “Element”, “Heating/Cooling”. If next to “Heating/Cooling” is the word “None”, you may want to consider another housing option as temperatures in May can get as low as 40 F.


Realtor Scams

Is this Person a Realtor or a Scammer?

Every real estate agent, broker, or realtor MUST list their name, title, company name, address, phone number, and e-mail at the end of every business related ad, e-mail, or post. Take a look at the picture to the right. This was the bottom of an e-mail in response to a student’s Craigslist ad for housing.

1.  A realtor or agent will have a business e-mail such as pchase@kw.com, not a free account such a gmail.com. There is also no address of the company listed in the e-mail.
2. You will need to check if this person is really a realtor and you will need to see if the contact information is legitimate. Go to realtor.com. At the top, click on “Find Realtors”. Then click on “Search for a real estate agent”. Enter the person’s name and click search. If the person is not listed, it is a scam.
3. If the person’s name does appear, check to see that the contact information is the same as in the e-mail. Then, go to the company’s website to see if this person is still listed as working there. Send this person an e-mail using the e-mail listed on the company website to see if he actually sent you the e-mail from Craigslist. Sometimes, scammers will take the logos, company contact info, and the name of a realtor or agent off a company’s website and use it in an e-mail.
4. Another way to know if an e-mail or posting is legitimate is to look at the city and state of the company. If it is far away from Cape Cod, it could be a scam.
5. For the past few years, there have been scammers on Craigslist who have identified themselves as a realtor from the Keller Williams Office in Centerville. THIS IS A SCAM! We have met the woman who handles rentals in this office. She has told us that the rentals she has are VERY expensive. J-1 students would not be able to afford their rental prices.