Rental scams are more common than you might think and can be difficult to spot. As you begin apartment searching, look out for these red flags to help avoid future rental scams.
Are you being scammed?
Below are common warning signs that a listing might be a scam:
- Money first
Scammers will try to get you to send money before ever meeting you, showing the property, or having you sign a lease. If the listing asks for payment or wired money up front, walk away.
- Missing landlord
If the person who replies to the listing claims to be out of town, sick, or simply not available to meet, yet still demands a security deposit, the listing could be a scam. Scammers avoid meeting so you can’t report them and they escape with your deposit. A legitimate landlord will arrange to meet you in person and show you the property.
- Fake listing
Even if you meet the landlord, you should still view the property before signing a lease. It’s easy for scammers to copy another listing and claim to have a fake property. Another clue is the request for an unusually high security deposit, as the scammer will quickly disappear after receiving the money.
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If you’re a victim of a rental scam:
- Call the police so they can help find the scammer and possibly get your money back.
- Contact the publisher of the listing so they can remove it from the site.
- Notify the Federal Trade Commission which is responsible for protecting consumers.
- File a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center which allows people to report crime that happens online.
- Think about sharing your story to warn others of what happened to you and don’t lose hope, you’ll find the perfect property.
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