Avoid Common Rental Scams in 2018
Unfortunately scams are omnipresent and in literally every industry. Did you know that rental scams also exist? We are not talking about landlords keeping your security deposit. Although that has probably happened to somebody you know, state laws have been enacted to make it very hard for an owner/landlord to pocket your deposit. Usually they have to return that amount within 30 days or so. But this depends upon the state you live in. Here are some scams that maybe you haven’t heard of.
- Imagine calling someone off of a Craiglist ad or private classified advertisement. They tell you that the unit is occupied, but the current tenant will be moving out. So you go ahead and put down a deposit and first month’s rent because it’s just to good of a deal to pass up. The only problem is that the person you gave the money to isn’t who you thought they were. You just got scammed! Yes people just scrape photos of another person's listing and pose it as their own.
- But sometimes the individual has access to the building that you interested in. This person will actually break in and change the locks to the dwelling. You might even move all your stuff in. Then one day you get a knock at the door. It's a representative from the bank or a real estate agent informing you that this building is in foreclosure.
Scams in the News
There is always a scam you can read about in the news. Here is one in Houston where a disabled man wired money to a man on Craiglist in the amount of $1200. What this scammer did was simply copy the real ad from another source and posted it himself.
So now that you know they exist, how can you avoid them.
- Never wire money or pay for anything with a prepaid gift card. Once you send the money, then it’s over.
- Do you feel as though you are getting pressured? If so then it’s a good idea to walk away. Remember that there is always another listing that will come onto the market. You can and will find something else.
- Many scammers like to price items at super “low” rates. While it doesn’t mean that this rental isn’t legitimate, do a little more research on your end to make sure that it’s valid.
- Make sure that the property actually exists. Many ads are simply made up out of thin air. So look up the address online. Look for photos and phone numbers. Make calls and follow up. Be sure and look over the contract thoroughly.
Avoid Scams during the 4th of July
Did you know that there are now fake booking sites. So how do you avoid these. Be sure and look at the url in your browser. Does it say “vrbo.com” or maybe something like “vrbo1.com”
Don’t let your guard down when it comes to rental scams. After all when your going on vacation for a short period of time, it’s probably natural that you won’t see the pad in advance. So chances are you are going to make a decision “sight unseen”. But you can use a credit card that allows you to dispute charges.
Use a Real Estate Agent
You can always use a real estate agent to assist you rent an apartment. That way you don't have to worry about whether or not the listing you are interested in is legitimate
Do you have any stories about any rentals scams? If so please share them in the comments. Crooks are always coming up with ingenious methods!