Rental scams are common on the internet. And they pertain to those looking for a place to rent, as well as landlords looking to rent out their property. Consider this info and be careful out there!
If You Are Looking to Rent as a Tenant
When you reach out to a landlord and inquire about a rental, pay attention to how they communicate and what they offer. There are a lot of warning signs for a rental scam:
- The listing photos have a watermark from another website (because the pictures have been copied/stolen)
- They ask to send you a code, for you to repeat back to them, “to prove your identity.” This is either the Google Voice Verification Scam, or an attempt to steal your Facebook or other social media account. Do not give any verification codes to anyone!
- They ask you to make a deposit:
- urgently, immediately, before other offers come in!
- before you can tour the property
- before you’ve met the owner/landlord face-to-face
- through a wire transfer or gift card purchase
- by going off-platform. Example: you’ve responded to an AirBnB listing, and the owner asks you to pay him through Venmo for a lower price
- The rental price is too-good-to-be-true
- They don’t check your background or credit history
Please understand that rental listing scams are very easy to concoct. You may encounter them on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, AirBnb and other public sites. Cybercriminals can easily look over legitimate real estate listings, and copy them in very convincing ways. Sometimes, they’ll copy every single detail from a listing, and then only change the phone number and email address.
If your gut tells you something, listen to it and do your due diligence before handing over any money. And if you feel like you’re in over your head, find a real estate professional. A seasoned Realtor® will protect you from all the scams out there, and many will help you find your next place to live without charging you for their service.
If You Are Renting Property as a Landlord
Landlords also have to watch out. That person reaching out to you about your apartment? They could be a scammer, too.
- Don’t accept payment for more than the agreed-upon amount. If someone wants to send too much money, so that you can refund them the overage, that’s an overpayment scam.
- Run the credit/employment checks yourself. If the tenant offers their own copies, that might seem kind of them, but those could be fakes. Trust but verify!
- They ask to send you a code, for you to repeat back to them, “to prove your identity.” This is either the Google Voice Verification Scam, or an attempt to steal your Facebook or other social media account. Do not give any verification codes to anyone! (Yes, landlords have to deal with this, too!)