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Protecting Yourself Against Rental Listing Scams

Smartphone with Incoming Call from Potential ScammerBeing a renter, it is important to know how to spot a rental listing scam and how to protect yourself. In a competitive rental market, it’s reasonable to want to locate a great Auburn rental at an affordable price. The problem is that scammers know this, too. These con artists frequently dangle too-good-to-be-true rental deals as a lure to get you to contact them. Then, once you do, they will use many different tricks to try and take your money while leaving you without a rental home to show for it. The good news is that rental listing scams are often easy to spot if you are know-how. With some good information and a few strategies, you can avoid falling into a rental scammer’s trap.

How to Spot a Scam

Rental scammers use several different methods to accomplish their schemes. One common technique is to steal a legitimate rental listing or ad, change the contact information, and place the altered ad on another site. One more common scam is to run ads for rentals that don’t exist or that aren’t for rent. They will often include beautiful pictures and a too-good-to-be-true rental rate to get you to acknowledge.

Spotting these scams isn’t always easy, but it is possible. The primary red flag is generally the rental price. If it seems too low for the local market, it’s probably a scam. Another clue is in the rental listing itself. Rental scammers oftentimes come from outside the United States and may post ads with poor grammar, odd wording, or other unusual features. If you see an advertisement like that, it’s better to avoid it.

If you happen to contact a rental listing ad that seems legitimate, that is when you may encounter a few more warning signs. Scammers will usually ask you to wire them money for a security deposit, application fee, or first month’s rent. They may likewise make odd excuses about why they can’t show you the property or claim to be out of the country. One big red flag is if they want you to make arrangements through an “agent” or someone who is not a professional property manager. If you encounter any of these throughout your rental home search, move on.

How to Protect Yourself

If you become suspicious of a rental listing, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from being scammed.

  • First, dig a little deeper into the owner or the listing. Do an internet search on both. If you find the same ad with different contact information, it’s most likely a scam.
  • If that checks out, ask for a copy of the lease terms in writing and read it carefully. It should spell out all rental payments, fees, and responsibilities.
  • Be careful not to give out your personal information, such as your Social Security number, until you are confident that they are who they say they are.
  • Also, make sure that you have a signed lease before sending any money to the owner or landlord.
  • Never send anyone money by wire transfer or send money for a rental to an overseas address. Both are clear signs of a scam, and chances are very high that you will never get that money back, even if you report the theft.

Finally, if you do discover a rental listing scam, you should contact the website where the ad was posted and report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). If you have become the target of a scam, it’s also important to report it to your local police.

You can avoid becoming the victim of a rental listing scam altogether by working with Real Property Management Metro West-Worcester. As a professional property manager, we can inform you about upcoming listings that have been verified through the proper channels. Contact us online or give us a call at 508-329-6000 if you’re looking for a great rental in Auburn.

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.