Scams & Fradulent Listings
Scams occur in almost every industry, both online and offline. As a consumer, you should never feel obligated to give out your personal or financial information, let alone send payment to a stranger you’ve never met.
Here are some warning signs of potential scams:
- The landlord claims they’re “out of town”, either in another state or out of the country. They claim they own a property in the state you’re looking for but can’t meet you in perso. Most scams come from landlords who claim to be missionaries, UN workers, or in the military.
- Emails or phone calls during odd hours. This could be an indication that the scammer is operating from overseas.
- Gratuitous spelling or grammatical errors in written communication.
- Requests for personal or financial information right off the bat. Under no circumstance should you provide information like your bank account number or social security number to an unknown source.
- Requests for money transfers or wires via Western Union or MoneyGram. Wiring funds is the number one indicator of a scam. Never pay in advance for any service.
If You’ve Been Scammed
If you believe you’ve been scammed, report the listing to the site you found it on and report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission.
If you’ve already wired money to a potential scammer, report the incident immediately to the wire company. They may be able to reverse the transfer if the recipient hasn’t yet collected the funds. In general, you want to avoid using cash or wiring money; checks and credit cards or other trackable payment options are the way to go.
When filing a report, include as much details as possible about the transaction. Information such as your name, contact information, and address, the amount of the transfer, name and contact information of the recipient, details of the incident, including written correspondence, as well a receipt confirmation of the transfer if applicable.
Better Safe Than Sorry
One golden rule when renting is that “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is“! Always be careful and do your homework beforehand – make extra sure that you are working with a legitimate landlord or agent:
- Check online ratings/reviews of your agent or landlord on RentHop and elsewhere.
- Calling the agent’s real estate company to double check that your agent is employed by them.
- Making sure your agent is properly licensed — they are required to carry their license with them while showing apartments.
- Getting agents referred to you from your family and friends.
- Doing quick Google searches!