What are the 3 biggest rental scams to watch out for?
Mihaela Buzec, a real estate writer at RENTCafé, gives the biggest scams:
“Among the most common rental scams are hijacked ads, phantom rentals, and illegal subletting. In the first case, scammers would create copycats of legitimate listings and promote them with different contact info and a different price.
For the second one, it’s likely that the rental unit being promoted in such an ad does not exist. For both of these instances, the price will often be much lower than the average asking price for such a unit, so if a deal seems too good to be true, that’s likely the case, and caution is necessary. The third type of scam is dangerous because—unlike for the first two types—the scammer will have access to a rental unit to show you, but they would not be in a position to rent it out to you.”
What can renters do if they got scammed?
“It’s very difficult for a renter to get their money back if they got scammed. That’s why prevention is key. It’s critical that renters educate themselves on how to recognize and avoid rental scams, and if they find one, they should report it immediately to the local authorities, and the IC3, who are dealing with internet fraud.
To best protect themselves, renters should be wary of very low prices, they should familiarize themselves with the rental market in their target area, and never send money without having a signed lease first. One good trick is to do a reverse Google image search of the rental they are unsure of, and if another listing pops up with a higher rental cost and different contact info, report the fraudulent ad to the authorities.”