Real estate scams are not unheard of and these types of scams are unfortunately our reality these days with the increasing of shopping for homes online. You should always be wary of giving your personal and financial information or payments of any kind to those you do not know personally. While sites like craigslist can offer a way to find great deals on houses and apartments for rent, it can also be a hotbed for scammers to take advantage of you.
Here are some tips to help you avoid becoming the next victim of a home rental scam whether you are the renter or the homeowner.
The landlord requests you to wire funds via MoneyGram or Western Union.
Most scams involve a request for you to wire funds, but you should think twice before wiring funds to anyone you haven’t met personally. Scammers are good at convincing unsuspecting people of reasons why they need to deal with you remotely. Likewise, do not accept wire funds that you did not initiate.
Many scams come from people in foreign countries who claim to be interested in purchasing or renting a home. Be wary of claims from people who are contact you from abroad because they are missionaries, U.N. workers or in the military. These types of renters do exist, but chances are they’ll want to see the housing or meet you before there is an exchange of money. Likewise, be wary of long-distance landlords. An example of this scam is receiving communication that they are out of the country and need you to wire the deposit. Usually this scam works by requesting you wire the deposit and then they’ll send you the keys.
Requests for personal or financial information
Do not give your bank account number or your social security number to unknown sources. You should first verify that they are a trusted source and then only provide the information sparingly.
If you find a fraudulent listing on a real estate page, craigslist or any other website advertising rentals, you should report the listing on that website. If you believe that you have been scammed, you should report the incident to the FTC immediately. If you sent money via MoneyGram or Western Union, report it immediately. If the recipient hasn’t collected the money yet there is a chance the company can reverse the transaction.
When reporting rental scams, it is important to include as much information as possible. You should include your name and the address of the receiver or any information you may have about the receiver. You should include any details surrounding the transaction. It’s possible some of the information is fake but it’s worth a shot to possible catch these scammers.
If you notice or experience any red flags, the only saying still stands true: if it feels too good to be true, it probably is.