Property rental scams reach an all time high as population grows and interest in rental property rises which make people and identity thieves attracted to the industry.
Identity thieves use online property rental advertising scams to steal people’s personal information by posting fake online ads. Scammers pose as property owners and real estate agents to advertise fake rental properties and steal personal information. With Internet applications, there is an abundant opportunity for scammers to attract potential tenants-to-be who are willing to share their information online for a chance to rent the attractive property described in the rental advertisement.
Property renters are encouraged to be cautious about property rental scams whether they apply online or in-person. Below you will find some general tips that can help you rent an apartment or a house safely and avoid rental property scams.
1. Be Extra Cautious of Attractive Ads
Some ads may be too good to be true. For example, a nice property picture may be listed with a very competitive below the market price. If you have done your homework, you would know whether the listed rent price is reasonable or completely out of ordinary for the neighborhood. If you are not familiar with the neighborhood because your are relocating and just moving into a city, it is not an excuse for not doing your homework. You can research other similar properties in the same neighborhood online or by calling people and asking questions to determine the average rental price.
2. Research the Property
There are many ways that you could research the property listed in the advertising. For example, you can look it up on Google map or visit the property location. You can also ask to speak with the owner or the agent by phone or in-person. Most scammers are after quick and mass scams and would not agree to discuss the rental property offline. You can also seek the possibility of calling some existing tenants or neighbors to ask about the neighborhood, prices, the property and the owners or property management contacts.
3. Avoid Pressures
If you are told that the rental property will soon exit the market because of the huge demand, don’t be pressured to share your information and put a down payment to get the apartment or the house. If you get pressured, you may even share your financial information to make the initial payment immediately.
4. Get Information, Don’t Give Information
When interacting with the property listing agent, always attempt to get the information that you need first to determine if it is a potential scam and whether it is the property that you want to rent. Never share your information in the interview process until you are certain that you want to rent the house.
5. Pay Carefully
After you decide that you want to rent the apartment or the house, you may be asked to put a down payment for first and last month rent or a security deposit. First, it is very important to not make a cash payment without knowing for sure you that you are paying the rightful owner of the property. If you decide to pay by cash, meet the person and verify some IDs and ask questions. Second, don’t share any bank information for wire transfer purposes. You can make a payment by check after you have a chance to verify the owner’s identity.
In summary, be patient, do your due diligence, and share as little information as possible to complete a safe transaction and avoid property rental scams. If you ever doubt about the authenticity and validity of the ads, pull back and either ask some more questions or move on to the next deal.