Rental Listing Scams
You got a new job. You’re moving to a new city. Now you need a place to live. Renting might be a great option, but you need to watch out for rental scams that can cost you a chunk of cash.
While the internet can make it easy to take a long-distance look, online listings also make it easier for scammers.
Here’s how these scams work and some things you can do to protect yourself.
Hijacking an ad is easy. A crook just copies an existing property description and pastes it onto a new site, changing the contact number so they get the calls, not the actual landlord.
If you find an interesting rental, do online search for that same address and description. If similar ads show up with different contact numbers or prices, it’s probably a scam.
Does the advertised rent look too good to be true? Take some time to look at similar rentals in the same area. If the price difference is significant, there could be a problem.
When possible, you should always ask to see the inside of the property in person and meet the landlord or property manager. If they refuse to show you the rental or claim they forgot the key, look for another place.
If the person you talk to asks for money upfront – either in cash or by wire – without having you sign a lease or agreement or doing any sort of background check, you should be wary.
When renting, take the time to verify as much as you can so you don’t become the victim of a costly scam.