Why would a potential Craigslist landlord ask for my birthday?
June 18, 2014 7:41 AM   Subscribe

Is there a scam I'm not aware of, or any reason why I shouldn't tell this person my birthday? I can't think of why I shouldn't, but it just seems a little strange. I would ask them why they want the info, but don't want to come across as strange, in case this is a normal thing.

Landlord (or leaseholder - not sure they own the place) has asked for my social media profiles, and has linked me to their Facebook profile. Their Facebook profile seems normal. The craigslist ad doesn't strike me as fishy.

They have not asked for any other personal identifying information - SSN, pictures, financials, anything. They've not mentioned doing a credit or background check.

I think this is technically a sublet since I wouldn't be on the lease. They responded to my initial query with a few general questions ("when can you come see the place") and a request for my exact birthday. I included my age in my reply, thinking maybe they just wanted to know how old I was. They emailed back asking, again, for the exact date of my birthday.

Thank you Mefi.
posted by taupe to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If they do a background or criminal records check, knowing your birthday helps to exclude you from others who share your name.

Forex - You can look up anybodies WI court records for free, you just need a first initial and last name. However, that will get everybody that shares those names, so if you want to narrow down the field, you need to use birthdate.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:44 AM on June 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

That seems weird. Date of birth is a common question in a rental application, but I don't know why they would need it in advance. As a note of caution, you should also really talk to the actual owner/landlord before subletting something. When I was very young I was once kicked out of a place because the tenant hadn't actually gotten permission to sublet.
posted by three_red_balloons at 7:45 AM on June 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

My guess: this person is into astrology. They want to know your sign.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:47 AM on June 18, 2014 [5 favorites]

My first thought was background check as well. If this person is running a background check, that makes a lot of sense.

Landlord (or leaseholder - not sure they own the place)

I think this is technically a sublet since I wouldn't be on the lease.

These are things that you really should figure out before proceeding.
posted by phunniemee at 7:48 AM on June 18, 2014 [6 favorites]

Nthing, background check, but it would be appropriate to say "Can I give you all the personal info after I see the place and decide I want to apply?" I've gotten to where I consider my exact birthdate pretty serious info to give out, since so many systems use it as a key. For social media and the like I give an approximate birthdate.
posted by randomkeystrike at 7:59 AM on June 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

A former landlord of mine did a credit and background check and so forth and later asked for my birthday. Since he already had my SSN for the background check it didn't bother me.

I lived in that apartment for a year.

About a week before my birthday, my landlord called to ask what brand of beer I like to drink. (By then I was very used to him calling me at work to ask odd questions or lecture me for an hour on how high to set the lawn mower blades and how often to mow the lawn.) I'm not a huge drinker but I gave him the name of a brand I liked. I came home from work on the day of my birthday to find a case of a different brand than what I told him sitting by the front door.

He meant well. I said thank you.

That landlord was quite an odd guy. When I moved out, he withheld about $12 (I don't remember the exact amount) from my security deposit along with a receipt for things like Glass Plus and so on he'd purchased at Wal Mart, even though (in my opinion) I had left the place cleaner than it was when I moved in.

Maybe the landlord or lease holder is just in the habit of giving birthday gifts.

Also, as mentioned upthread, if you've got a common name like John Smith, your birthday disambiguates you from other John Smiths in criminal records checks.

(As an aside, you really should find out whether or not it's a landlord situation or a sublet situation.)
posted by tckma at 8:04 AM on June 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

You can also request the same from him. Mine is MM/DD/YYYY, what's yours. Then you can run a background check too.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:19 AM on June 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

There is a common Craigslist scam where the person placing the Craigslist ad either doesn't own the place or have authority to lease it, and in some cases don't even have access to the place at all. I would not give my date of birth to this person until I saw the place (including the inside - if they tell you they can't show you the inside until the previous tenant moves out that is a huge red flag) and decided if I wanted to apply.

Note: You tagged this NYC and so my red flags fly way earlier than they would in any other city. Craigslist scams probably outnumber the real listings here.
posted by bedhead at 8:20 AM on June 18, 2014 [7 favorites]

I'd give him a fake one. Seriously, there's no need to run a check on you until you apply for the place. Does your FB list your birthday?
posted by mochapickle at 8:34 AM on June 18, 2014

I would ask them why they want the info, but don't want to come across as strange, in case this is a normal thing.

When people ask for your personal identifying information and you don't know why, you should always ask why. If it's legit and you ask politely, s/he should have no problem saying why. Not only is it important for you to know why but it also can serve as a scam test.
posted by Beti at 9:24 AM on June 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would actually be more weirded out by the request for social media profiles. I would not want my landlord to be that involved in my personal life! It also ups my suspicion that something fishy is going on...while I've been asked for plenty of personal information on rental applications (though, grant you, on official, legal documents, not in random emails), I have never been asked for details relating to things like social media.
posted by rainbowbrite at 9:36 AM on June 18, 2014 [13 favorites]

Piling on: craigslist rental scams are so common it's depressing. Make a solid appointment to see the place, including inside, before providing any other information whatsoever.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:29 PM on June 18, 2014

My guess: this person is into astrology. They want to know your sign.

This was my first thought. 2 out of 3 landlords I've had have been very into astrology, and one told me that after I filled out the application she looked up my sign to see if we would get along well.
posted by bunderful at 4:17 PM on June 18, 2014

Response by poster: Many helpful answers, thank you.

I contacted them back to ask why they'd asked, and was informed they had already found a tenant. Next time I'll know better, thanks to AskMe.
posted by taupe at 1:51 PM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

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