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The Threat of Rental Scams

We’ve all heard of rental scams, but would you ever admit falling for one? Unfortunately, people fall victim to scammers every day. Many of them lose thousands of dollars that they’ll never recover. But it’s not just tenants that are threatened by scammers. Landlords and property managers feel the effects, as well.

The Many Faces of Rental Scams

Rental scams come in many different shapes and sizes. There’s the classic Craigslist scam, complete with the poorly written ad and request for a large sum to be wired up front. But not all are as easy to spot. Some scammers claim to be the landlord and actually show the property to prospective tenants. They even go so far as to research the real owner’s names, create fake email accounts, and take advantage of modern technology to pull of their scams.

Multiple Victims

Tenants aren’t the only ones hurt by rental scams. Landlords and property managers feel the effects, too. Not only do they have their ad stolen (and potentially their names!), but what happens if the scammer actually moves someone in? They split with money in hand, hanging the tenants out to dry, and in the worst case scenario you’re left dealing with a squatter situation and possible eviction.

Spotting Rental Scams

So how do you spot a scam? The biggest indicator is that it’s just too good to be true. Scammers use unusually low prices on nice rentals to reel in their victims, then ask for unusually high fees and deposits be wired up front. They will usually only communicate via text or email and often offer excuses for why they can’t hand over keys or show the property just yet.

The best way to guard against scams is to be smart and cautious. Do your research. If you find the same property with different information listed, call the contacts on both to verify the listing. If the “landlord” asks you to wire thousands up front before proceeding or refuses to show you the property, stop what you’re doing. And if you think you’ve come across a scam, flag the ad to be removed.

While you can’t stop scammers from trying to dupe people, you can protect yourself from falling victim to their cons. Be smart and if you feel like you’ve run into a scam, slow down and verify the information before doing anything else.

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