There are many things to think about when looking into renting a home. However, one thing you probably don’t think about is whether or not the listing is a scam. Often times scammers will advertise a rental that doesn’t exist or isn’t available to trick others into sending them money before they learn the truth. There are many red flags that you can look for to avoid rental scams.
Wire Money Requests
If you are asked to wire money, this is a dead giveaway of a scam. No matter what anyone says, there is never a good reason to wire money to pay an application fee, security deposit, or first month’s rent. This rule applies even if they send you a contract first. As a general rule of thumb, you should never wire funds to anyone that you haven’t met in person. Wiring money is the same as sending cash in that once you’ve sent it, you cannot get it back.
Don’t Give Money Before Seeing the Rental or Signing the Lease
You never want to send money to anyone you haven’t met in person for an apartment that you’ve never seen. If you’re in a situation where you cannot visit the house yourself, it is a good idea to send someone that you trust to go and confirm that it is in fact for rent, and that it is exactly what is advertised. In addition, make sure to do research on the owner and listing. If you happen to find the same ad listed under a different name, this is another sign that it could be a scam.
Landlords That Are Out of the Country
There are many scams that come from users in foreign countries who say that they are interested in purchasing or renting a home. They may tell you that they have a lawyer or an agent working on their behalf that will get you the keys. Some will even go as far as to make fake keys. Be very cautious of anyone who is contacting you from overseas because they are missionaries or U.N. workers.
Rental scams are becoming more common nowadays, and it important to look out for the signs listed above. If you have become the target of a rental scam, it is important to report to your local law enforcement agency, and to the Federal Trade Commission.