Rental scams: How to recognize and avoid being a victim
Finding long-term rentals in an inflationary market is a real challenge, and scammers know and are taking advantage of this weakness.
Whether you are looking for an apartment or a house, scammers are trying to fool you with deceptive methods. The good news is that these are the best ways to identify and stop these criminal fraudsters.
Follow this list to make sure the potential rental property is legitimate.
1. Make sure the monthly rent is not too good to be true
If you are looking for a place to rent in a certain area, and you notice that there is a listing that is significantly lower than other listings in that area, it may be a scam. The scammer may advertise that they are offering a rare opportunity to prospective tenants that is quickly disappearing, hoping to attract first-time renters, out-of-state renters or tenants who are in the area. Are in a hurry to find out.
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Double check other rentals in the area you’re looking at with similar amenities to make sure it’s not a scam. You can also use a rental calculator like Rent Zestimate To see what a particular rental is expected to cost based on what it is offering.
Before doing anything, Ask the property manager or landlord why the price is so low. And make sure you keep a copy of all your communications with them. You can also use review websites like Yelp or Google Reviews to check the landlord’s reputation.
2. Check that the list is valid
A big clue that a rental listing is a scam is if you come across the same listing on a different rental site, and the name of the person who listed it is different than what you originally saw. A scammer can easily obtain information for a legitimate listing and change the contact information to make it look like they listed it themselves.
Always check to see if a rental you are interested in appears online on various sites., and if the contact information is different for everyone, it’s probably a scam. Also, be sure to use reputable rental listing websites like Zillow, Trulia or Apartments.com. These websites usually have a verification process to ensure that the property and landlord are legitimate.
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3. Note how the listing asks for payment
If the landlord or property manager requests that you pay the rentCash, wire transfer or money order, this is a huge scam red flag.Once you send money through these methods, you will have trouble tracing any payments if the property turns out to be a scam.
Many legitimate rental listings will ask you to pay by electronic deposit or credit card or check from your bank account. Some of the larger properties may also have a website with a portal where you can pay online. All these are searchable options where there is no room for you to be scammed.
4. Do not give personal information
You should never give out your personal information before viewing a property.It is common practice for prospective tenants to be allowed to view a property without providing any personal information such as social security numbers, dates of birth or credit card numbers, and you should not be asked to make any kind of payment before viewing the rental. .
If you are unable to view the property in person, request a tour online, or send an agent or a friend on your behalf.
5. Make sure it is not a phantom asset
Some scammers will go so far as to give potential tenants virtual tours of places where the property is not for rent at all. This is so that the prospective tenant believes that the property is genuine and is then prepared to hand over a security deposit.
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Always schedule an in-person or virtual meeting with the landlord or property manager early in the process. You can always ask someone you trust to view the rental property to make sure it is legit. You can also use online tools such as Google Street View, Zillow or Trulia to verify that the property is real and matches the photos and description provided.
And if you’re still unsure, you can contact the local assessor’s office or county clerk, and they’ll provide property records on the spot. Be sure to verify all names, websites and phone numbers in the listing, and read all reviews from the property manager or landlord if they have a website or any social media.
Above all, trust your instincts. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Go with your gut, and avoid suspicious-looking properties, or landlords who seem too pushy.
Were these tips helpful to you? Let us know if you have any rental scam red flags we may have missed.
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