You may be the target of a scam!
According to the U.S. Census American Community Survey, there were 38,864,600 renter households in the United States between 2007 and 2011; that’s plenty of targets for criminals pedaling rental property scams.
Consumers often fall victim to these scams after responding to an online advertisement. The alleged landlord wants money upfront before you are able to get the keys to see the property. The scam also usually involves the landlord being out of the country so that they are unable to meet the prospective renter/victim in person.
Sometimes the scammer hijacks another person’s real estate ad, changing the contact information to their own. Other times, they create listings for places that aren’t actually for rent or maybe don’t even exist.
Here we share tips from the Better Business Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to avoid being victimized by such scams:
- Compare the rental price to comparable properties in the area. An unusually low price is a red flag.
- Deal with landlords or agents who are local. Scammers often give an elaborate story about why they are in another location, often another country.
- Avoid anyone who wants to communicate strictly through email.
- Do not give your personal information to a potential landlord or real estate agent either verbally or on a rental application until you are certain you want to rent the property in question.
- Do not provide money prior to visiting a rental property in person.
- Do not send money via a wire transfer service. It almost always indicates the transaction is a scam. You will not be able to get your money back.
- Do not react hastily even if urged to do so. A scammer will often spin a story about the risk of you losing the property to someone else if you don’t commit quickly.
Your identity is personal. Keep it that way.