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Don’t Get Scammed On A Rental

When searching for a rental property – whether it is for vacation or your home – you can’t help but be excited to find a home listing online where the price is right and the location is perfect. But before you inquire, did you consider the possibility that the listing might be a scam?

You name the industry and fraudsters have probably touched it. According to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2011 approximately 25 million Americans were impacted by scams every year, pursued by crooks whose intentions are to bilk hard-working individuals out of their hard-earned money.

If you’re in the home rental market, the following are a few indicators that should raise red flags, along with some tips on how to confirm if a listing is legit:

Requests sending money via transfer

We’ve all heard “try it before you buy it,” but scammers would much rather have you buy it before you try it. If the listing or the person you speak with references wiring money through a service like PayPal or Western Union – and you haven’t even seen the place in person yet – don’t walk, run in the other direction.

Listing is teeming with typos

Not only are fraudsters short on scruples, some also lack smarts. Case in point: if the listing has several typos and/or grammar irregularities. If you find improper verbiage and misspellings throughout, you may have a scam on your hands.

Asking price too good to be true

As the old saying goes, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. Rental prices have risen consistently over the last several years. So if a property listing has a price that seems awfully low, tread lightly.

Unleash the power of Google

Where would we be without Google? The search engine has become a go-to resource to answer virtually any question or uncover questionable information. If you suspect a listing is fraudulent, enter the phone number or email address into the search bar. It may bring up threads from individuals who’ve had dealings with the advertiser that may cause you pause.

Verify, verify, verify

A property listing should have lots of accompanying information detailing the ins and outs of the dwelling or unit, including pictures, room dimensions, furnishings (if included), flooring, architectural style and the year in which the place was built, among others. If it is lacking any of these basics, simply move on. 

‚ÄčFortunately, websites like Trulia have systems in place that guard against fraud, capable of separating the chaff from the wheat. Occasionally, though, bogus listings slip through the cracks, as virtually no security device gets it right 100% of the time. If you are victimized, you may want to consider filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Here’s a brief explanation of how to go about it: