The tips below on how to avoid scams have been taken from Craigslist.org's advisory on scams:
Trust Your Instincts
If you read a listing that sounds great, but something just feels off, trust what you feel. If you get an uneasy feeling from emailing a potential landlord or feel that something just isn’t right, do NOT follow through.
If it sounds too good to be true… it is. If a fully furnished, 2-bedroom luxury apartment is for rent for $500, it most likely is not real.
Only deal locally or with people that you can meet in person. Follow this one simple rule and you will avoid 99% of scams. If they cannot meet with you, that should raise a red flag.
Never Wire Funds
You should never wire funds via WESTERN UNION, MONEYGRAM or any other wire service. Anyone who asks you to do so is a scammer. You should be able to meet with them to give payment and recieve a receipt.
Note: Fake cashier checks & money orders are common, and banks will cash them and then hold you responsible when the fake is discovered weeks later.
UT Austin is not Accountable
UT Austin is not involved in any transaction, and does not handle payments, guarantee transactions, provide escrow services, or offer "buyer protection" or "seller certification”.
Never Give Out Financial Information
Never send anyone your bank account number, social security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc. Avoid deals involving shipping or escrow services. Only a scammer will "guarantee" your transaction.
Most scams involve one or more of the following: inquiry from someone far away, involving Western Union, Money Gram, cashier's check, money order, shipping, escrow service, a "guarantee", or inability to meet face-to-face before consumating transaction.