Renting an apartment or house is a big deal. You're probably excited to see if it's the right home for you, but also nervous about how much it will cost and whether or not you will get what you want. That's why so many people turn to online rental search engines like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist when looking for places to rent. Unfortunately, there are scammers out there who try to take advantage of people by tricking them into paying for fake apartments online by using listings that appear authentic but aren't. And, it can also be expensive and time-consuming. Fortunately, there are ways you can avoid falling victim to these scams so that your next move is smooth sailing!
Never wire money to anyone you don’t know.
There are many types of rental scams and you should be cautious when renting a house. Scammers often ask people to wire money, especially overseas or via non-bank transfer services.
- Never wire money to anyone you don’t know (or use a non-secure payment method such as Western Union or MoneyGram). If the rental amount is significantly less than market prices, be suspicious. This may indicate that there are other costs associated with your booking.
- Don’t rent from someone who doesn't have their own website or an Instagram account where they post pictures of themselves driving around in their car! These people could be using fake profiles on sites like Facebook, Airbnb, or Craigslist to scam people out of thousands of dollars every month.
Never use a non-secure payment method.
Never use a non-secure payment method such as Western Union or MoneyGram when paying for a rental. The money you send will be gone forever, and the scammer will take your money and disappear.
Be suspicious if the rental amount is significantly less than market prices.
- One of the most important things to keep in mind when deciding whether a deal is too good to be true is that if it sounds too good, then it probably is. If the price seems too low and you’re asked for money upfront, then there’s a good chance that this person might be trying to scam you. And if they ask you to wire money or use a money transfer service like Western Union or Money Gram (which can take several days), then again—it may be time for your rental search engine of choice.
- Renting a property is an ideal way to save money on rent, but there are some things you should look out for before you sign up.
- If the rental amount is significantly lower than market prices, this could be an indication that it's a scam. There are several reasons why scammers might do this: they might not have enough money themselves or they may want you to trust them with your deposit in order to convince you later on down the road when things go wrong (for example, if they don't return your deposit).
- Another red flag is when someone asks for a large portion of your upfront payment right away — especially if it's transferred internationally via wire transfer instead of using PayPal or another secure method like Venmo (which allows users to send money directly from their bank accounts). The best way to avoid getting scammed is to do your research. Make sure you're dealing with a reputable company and don't pay more than necessary.
Check the address of the property using Google Street View and make sure it matches the listing.
Google Street View is a great tool for verifying locations. You can use it to confirm that the address listed on your rental property listing matches the actual location of that property.
You can also use Google Street View to check nearby landmarks, such as parks or schools, which may help you determine if it would be safe for your family to move there.
Confirm that the landlord or property management company is actually renting it out.
- Confirm that the landlord or property management company is actually renting it out. Ask for their full name or company's name and then run an internet search with it, along with some keywords from the ad, to see if any other ads appear with similar information (scammers will often recycle the same ads on multiple sites).
- Check the property management company's address on Google Street View and make sure it matches what's listed in your contract. If you're not sure who you're dealing with, ask a trusted friend or relative where they think they should send money so they can track down this information themselves. This can help prevent scams from happening!
- Make sure you are talking to the right person. If you're dealing with a property management company, they should have the authority to rent the property. If they don't, walk away and find someone who does.
Make sure all phone numbers are local and call several times at different times of day before trusting them.
- Call the number multiple times at different times of the day.
- Look for a local address, not a PO box.
- Look for a local phone number and check to see if the area code matches your own.
- If all you get is voicemail, don't trust that either–this may be a sign that a foreign scammer is trying to get your money. Some scammers create fake voicemail messages.
If you can't locate any information about who you're dealing with, it's possible that someone is trying to scam you out of money by posing as an agent or another property owner who has hired them—and they've got your contact information in hand! In this case, contact those companies directly through their customer service lines instead of calling around hoping one will answer (and then hopefully get hung up on).
Check out the neighborhood to see if it matches what’s described in the ad
Next, check out the neighborhood to see if it matches what’s described in the ad, and look to see whether any major landmarks have been omitted from the description (scammers who have never seen the property may leave them out).
Also, make sure that you’re seeing a real-life photo of your prospective rental house. Are there other photos on Google Maps? Does it appear as though they were taken with a camera phone or laptop webcam? If so, this could mean that someone has used an image of another property as their own.
Always be skeptical of any offer that sounds too good to be true. It's important to remember that it takes time and effort for scammers to find new victims, so they may not have a lot of available rental listings at the moment. If you need any help in finding a new home, don't hesitate to reach out to us at [email protected] or call +1 915 996 5775.