How to Spot a Rental Scam

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How to Spot a Rental Scam


Nowadays the internet is full of savvy scammers out to get your money. I’m sure you’ve heard horror stories of people sending money to what they thought was a legitimate landlord only to find out that they took the money and ran. These scammers generally post on Craigslist but we’re seeing an increase in scams on other websites like Trulia and Zillow. Below is a summary of red flags to look for when searching for a rental.

Rental Prices That Are Too Good To Be True
A 5 bedroom house with granite for only $900 a month? What an amazing deal! Make sure to check rental prices of similar homes when in doubt. Many times you’ll find the real ad that they stole the photos from while searching. Drive by the property and see if there is a sign in the front yard and call the number off the sign.

Emails That Don’t Match the Contacts Name
Are you trying to contact Susan Smith but the reply to email address is arthurmartin@gmail.com? Many send out fraudulent emails from multiple fake email accounts so they are harder to track by authorities.

Emails With Too Many Personal Details
A typical manager or owner will not take the time to tell you about their charitable work in Africa or flaunt their profession. Scam artists want you to think they are important and trustworthy. Many times they will sign off as Dr. Susan Smith of the United Nations or tell you that they are a Civil Engineer by profession and are currently working with Andor Technology Ltd, Springvale Business Park Belfast, BT12 7AL United Kingdom.

Owners In Foreign Countries
You should be wary when a property owner is located outside of the United States. Many scammers claim to be renting out their home due to a sudden move. They will offer heavily discounted rents or even free rent if you’ll just maintain the home. They will tell you that they will send you the keys as soon as they receive a deposit. In most cases, a homeowner who lives out of the country will hire a property management company to take care of the home.

Emails With Poor Grammar or Overly Formal English
If you receive a response to your initial rental inquiry that just doesn’t sound natural or that has numerous grammatical mistakes, inappropriate capitalization, typos or misspelled words, chances are you’re dealing with a scammer. Also keep an eye out for over use of formal language such as “kindly” or “I eagerly await your response”.

Requesting Personal & Financial Information
While legitimate property management companies will ask for personal information on a rental application in order to run credit and background checks, be careful when you are providing sensitive personal information. Many times scammers will request your personal information before you’ve seen the home or really expressed any interest. Research the management company or the landlord to ensure they are a valid and reputable company prior to providing any personal or financial information.

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