Feb. 7, 2017
Yes, Rental Scams/Fraud are still a thing.
What is a Rental Scam?
A rental scam is when someone advertises a home or apartment for rent when they don't actually own the property.
How do you know if it is a scam?
The biggest trigger to tell whether an ad is a scam is if you are asked to provide rent or deposit money upfront. ESPECIALLY if they ask for a wire transfer through Western Union.
Another is if they tell you that they can't meet you at the property because they live out of town or out of the country.
As a real estate agent, I have seen quite a few things. The most recent is that the person advertising a home for rent went and REMOVED a for sale sign AND Rekeyed the home! Yes, they actually keyed the home so that they would have a key to "show" potential renters the property.
If this happens to you, how would you know?
My best recommendation is to ask for identity or proof of ownership. If they balk at your request... then maybe they aren't the owners... Better safe than sorry.
Another way to protect yourself is to go directly to a property management company or a real estate agent in order to rent a property. That way you know they are legit.
Do NOT fill out an application until you have seen the property. DO research the email address that they contact you with on Google. Is the email they contacted you with filled with a sob story and/or grammatical errors? Red flag...
Is there protection for you if you get "taken" by a rental scam?
Yes. First report it at your local law enforcement then report to IC3 and the FTC.