The cyberspace is known for many great things like making any type of information more accessible to us, helps our loved ones to connect even across the globe, and many things. However, just as a coin has two sides, it also craved the way for an array of cyber-crimes, including rental scams.
So, when you are scrolling through listing after listing for your apartment search, you might tempt to go for a post with the most of everything you have ever wanted in an apartment like your dream location, every amenity you can imagine, etc. and that to be within your budget. It might be true for 1 in 100000 but genuinely this scenario is too good to be true. And here my friend you would likely be falling right into a sneaky rental scammer’s trap.
There are mainly two major kinds of rental scams:
- Stolen Ads
Here scammers steal real rental listings outright and switch the real contact information with their phone number or email address. To counter this kind of scam, search the address online to see if the listing is posted on other sites along with don’t forget to verify that the contact info is the same as the one you’ve been checking out.
- Fake Ads
Here listing is completely fabricated (the dark side of creativity) for units that either isn’t available or don’t exist altogether. To make sure your listing isn’t a fake one, just reverse search the images in the ad. It’s the quickest and easiest way to find out if the images are actually stock photos or belong to a real or a different listing unit.
Fortunately for you, rental scams are easy to detect if you know what you’re looking for. And once you know what you’re looking for, you can evade losing money, time, patience, and most importantly your sanity…
After this, the next question arises here and that is…
HOW TO AVOID RENTAL SCAMS
Here are a few tips which you might want to follow:
- Do some digging.
Before you contact anyone related to a rental listing, you better first search the property address online. Confirm whether that place exists and is located in a residential area or not. Along with also see if that property is in any other online listing and check the given contact details match up on all of the listings?
- Be suspicious of rent prices listed below market value.
If the deal seems too good to be true, it’s probably and in most cases definitely a scam.
- Beware of a pushy landlord/contact.
You will know you’re dealing with a pushy owner when:
- They give you an urgent deadline to pay a deposit
- They don’t want to run a background or credit check
- They are overeager to collect payment from you
A legitimate owner generally wants to protect their investment. They always make sure they are trusting their property with a reliable renter. Bottom line- a scammer always in hurry and just wants to make a quick buck as fast as possible.
- Never send money without seeing the rental first.
This is especially true if the landlord/contact insists on dealing in cash or online transfer before you finalize anything. So, avoid sending money to anybody before any verification. If you are unable to visit rental in person, send your trusted person to visit it for you to make sure it checks out. It will better if you video chats with them while they’re touring the rental on your behalf.
Stay attentive in your search and watch for the above warning signs of a scam. In case you do come across a rental scam, ensure you report it to the listing site you found it on, your local law enforcement agency, and/or the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). Scammers don’t stand a chance against you if you are fully knowledgeable about it.