How to Avoid a SCAM Online
Some things online are just too good to be true, which most likely they are, and for the housing market it can be the worst news. Don’t fall prey to scammers online looking to steal your money with fake advertisements, especially when it comes to your home! These helpful tips and information will help protect you from those sneaky scammers.
1. If it’s too Good to be True…
…it probably is. Scammers will grab listings, especially on Craigslist, and post them as their own. These fake listings are designed to pull in the potential renter with the “fantastic deal.” They usually like to grab the same text from someone else posting it, the pictures too, and use them as their own.
Do some research on the housing market and the price of homes in the area. Scan the local classified ads and using websites like Hotpads and Lovely.This will give you some easy tools to point out the red flags; the ridiculously cheap rent, no security deposit, and of course the lack of screening a tenant.
2. Never Wire Money
If a property owners tells you to wire money to secure a property, it probably is a scam. There is no reason to ever wire money through a wire transfer. Sending money through wire transfer is the same thing as giving cash to someone, and once it is done there is almost no way of getting the money back!
3. Always Verify the Owner
An owner will take every step to make sure they are the owner of the property, giving an email address to contact them, a phone number and can even meet you. A scammer will usually meet one of these criteria or try and do all three by breaking into the home to show it to you! To bait the hook, they will even do sketchy things like lessen the deposit or rent on the spot to give them money.
When looking at Craigslist listings, always make sure you verify the owner of the apartment or home. Check with websites to verify the owner or previous owners of the home and by calling them to get more information about the current owner. If this is not a possibility, drive by the property and look for signs showing that it’s actually for rent or who manages the property. Also, when you meet a property manager get a business card and see if they have an office. Check online where it is and see if it is registered with the Better Business Bureau.
4. If They Try and Send Keys in the Mail…
…it is most likely a scam. This is usually the case when the person is out of town, or living somewhere else momentarily or something else that may sound absurd. Always try and meet someone at the property or in person when doing any transaction, especially if it includes your private information. Falling prey to identity theft may even be a worse outcome to losing money.
5. Check, Double Check, Triple Check
Being safe is the main concern for any home renter and finding something online can be a bit unnerving at times with scammers out there, but it is okay! Having helpful information like this blog and the listed links below, can help you avoid scams. Just always check, double check, and triple check all of the information given to you about the potential home you are going to be renting.
Looking for a home online can be stressful with all of the websites out there and all of those potential places to live. Scams are out there, but there are also owners and landlords that want to work with you and won’t send keys through the mail or ask for money to be wired. We want you to be safe so remember these helpful tips when looking for that perfect home!
Information on Online rental SCAMS