As you start searching for a home to rent, you come across some that are, well for lack of better words, just sound too good to be true. You do some research and find that the home is also listed for sale on other sites.
How Do Rental Listing Scams Work?
Is someone asking you to send them money via Western Union, Moneygram, or Prepaid Visa card? Have the owners moved to another state and can’t show you the property? Found a deal that’s too good to turn down? These are possible signs of rental listing scams used to defraud users into wiring money or giving up personal information.
Scammers use a variety of tools and methods to post fraudulent listings on many internet listing sites. One method includes manually listing available properties by copying existing listings and posting them with new prices. They also take existing for-sale properties and post it as a rental listing. Lastly, they use listing management tools and syndicate the fraud across many different sites.
Once you’ve contacted a scammer, they usually ask for a few things — information, urgency, and money through Western Union, Moneygram, or a Prepaid Visa card. Stop there. Flag the listing on Trulia beneath the title and property address and continue your search.
How Can I Spot and Avoid Rental Scams?
Below is a list of best practices on spotting and avoiding scams. Renter beware. Be vigilant in protecting your private information and review these tips:
- The listing is significantly less than nearby similar properties. Beware. If it seems too good to be true, then chances are that it’s a scam.
- The owner is out of the country on a mission, job opportunity, or military service. Always meet the landlord or agent in-person and at the property. If they can’t meet you there or show you the property, then it’s possibly a scam. Good idea is to always have a friend or family member with you.
- The easiest sign of a rental scam is when someone asks you to wire money via Western Union, Moneygram, or Prepaid Visa card. Scammers usually ask for a deposit or first month’s rent before you even see the property. Don’t send money for whatever reason.
- Don’t fill out an application until you’ve seen the property. Some apartment communities will offer legitimate applications via a property’s website, but don’t submit an application with personal information until you’ve verified the property exists.
- Never, under any circumstances, send money to anyone without securing a lease and confirming the property manager has legal right to rent the property.
What Can I do if I Fall Victim of Online Fraud?
Flag the listing as potential fraud on the site you were looking at and contact the local authorities.
Your real estate agent is the best source of information about the local community and real estate topics. Give Kevin Cooper a call today at 603-657-6787 to learn more about local areas, discuss selling a house or tour available homes for sale.