Tips on How to Avoid Rental Fraud

by Mary Anne Ragragio

Posted on 2019-08-21 20:17:01

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Planning to rent to an apartment should be fun and exciting, however, it is not always safe when it comes to scammers or fraudsters. Unfortunately, many renters are experiencing rental fraud. Apartment rental scams are common and sometimes could be difficult to spot. If you are hunting to rent an apartment, it would be better to check some of these tips first to see how you can possibly avoid to be scammed and to help protect your hard-earned money.

According to the newest report of Apartment List, who ran a nationally representative survey of 1,000 US renters, an estimated of 43.1 percent of renters encountered listing they suspected fraudulent and more than 5 million US renters have lost money from rental fraud.

Rental fraud is just one of many types of scam. This type of scam happens when a pretending to be a landlord or property manager offers you to rent an apartment that does not exist at all and will try to ask you like money for the application fee or security deposit. People sometimes are vulnerable and it is one of the scammer’s favorite victims.  


Most common fraud schemes

  • Bait and switch. This is a sales tactic of the scammers who will try to attract the client by advertising a rental property for a price; they will tell the client that the original property is no longer available and will convince the client to purchase or rent a more expensive property.
  • Hijacked Ads is one form of rental fraud. Some scammers who do this will pretend or act like the original property owner in which they will be advertising a legitimate property, but changing the contact information. Then they will place the ad on a different site.
  • Scammers will tell you to wire money. It has never been a good idea at all sending money to someone for the reason like payment for the application fee, security deposit or other fees for an apartment that you have not seen nor sure if the property is really existing.
  • Landlord, property manager or leasing agent who replied for the listing is not available for meeting in person, yet still asking the client to send money for an application fee, security deposit or other fees. In this case, there a big possibility that it is just a scam technique of scammers.
  • Asking payment in the form of cash. Some scammers or fraudsters will insist you to pay them cash because this way they will not be traced.
  • Already leased property. A Scammer will pretend to be the real owner or property manager, will collect money like application fees or security deposit


How to prevent fraud

  • Conduct basic research.
  • Identify the real property owner.
  • Try to talk with the current resident.
  • Demand a written and copy of the lease signed by the landlord.
  • Never pay a deposit and rent a place that you haven't seen.
  • Never wire money regardless of how convincing they talk.
  • Spread the word. You may or not be able to get your money back when you get scammed, but it will help others not to become another victim.


What to do if you have been scammed

  • Report to the police right away, provide as much information and evidence as you can you give.
  • File an apartment rental scam complaint with the Federal Trade Commission or FTC. FTC is an independent agency of the United States government who works to prevent fraudulent activity, deceptive and unfair business practices and to provide information to help consumers identify and avoid scams.
  • Contact the publisher of the ad; let the publisher know of the situation to help remove the ad because they take this kind of matter seriously. 


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