Scammers post fake rental listings on platforms such as Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist to collect application fees rather than rent the home. This scam, in fact, has no real rental, to begin with. The scammer deletes the listing once they have collected the application fees.
How to identify a rental scam
#1: The price of the rental is too good to be true.
Is the cost well below the going rate for the region? Scammers hope you will be distracted by the low monthly price and not notice any issues. Why is the cost still listed if it is so low? Are there no applicants for this low-cost rental in this expensive market?
#2: It has been listed for a long time.
Similarly, you may see how many people applied for this property on certain rental websites. Why hasn’t this property been rented if it’s been listed for a long time and has a lot of applicants?
#3: “No credit check” is a key phrase.
Renters who skip the credit check are taking a significant risk. Scammers love using words such as “no credit check” and other phrases that seem to eliminate barriers to entry. Scammers are hoping you will see barriers removed, in addition to the low price, and completely ignore all of the red flags they have posted.
#4: The landlord prefers not to meet in person.
Landlords want to at least meet the people moving into their property if they do not want to meet in person. Scammers will avoid meeting you in person at all costs, including last-minute cancellations and outright refusals.
#5: The property can’t be shown to you because the landlord is too busy.
Scammers frequently use this excuse. The landlord might tell you to visit the property and check it out yourself or direct you to pictures online. If the landlord does not have time to show you the property, this should be a big warning sign because showing you the property is their literal occupation.
#6: You must pay a deposit before you can see the property.
It’s a warning sign if a landlord demands a deposit before showing you a property. While deposits are often required for applications, they are usually small and sometimes refundable. It’s also unusual to require a deposit before seeing a property. The scammer might be seeking some extra money, especially if the deposit is large. Don’t be fooled by wire transfer scams.
How to avoid a rental scam:
#1: Avoid buying from vendors that offer deals that seem too good to be true.
It is still a relevant saying that if something appears too good to be true, it probably is. Sometimes things that are too good are actually true, but it is important to be aware of any warning signs before proceeding.
#2: Never pay anything upfront.
You should not have to pay anything if you just want to see a property. You should not provide any money until you have a written statement specifying either an application fee or a lease agreement.
#3: Drive by the property.
It’s critical to ensure that the property is currently living up to your standards and that it actually exists. Even when the property exists, it might not be listed by the appropriate party. Look for For Sale signs around the property or for signs that someone else is living there. Scammers frequently locate empty houses for sale and use them for fake rental advertisements.
#4: Be sure to meet the landlord in person.
Be certain that the landlord is authentic and use your best judgment. If you’re able to meet the landlord at the property, it is less likely that it is a scam, but you should trust your instincts. Perform background checks on your prospective landlord before signing any official documents.
There are several legitimate rental sites out there, but it’s important to be cautious when searching for a place to live. Your best bet is to do your research and avoid cash deals or any other offers that seem too good to be true. In this way, you can ensure that you are safeguarded against scams and landlords who do not maintain their properties.
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