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Protecting Yourself Against Rental Listing Scams

Smartphone with Incoming Call from Potential ScammerAs a renter, it is important to know how to spot a rental listing scam and how to protect yourself. In a competitive rental market, you normally want to get a great Pasco rental at an affordable price. Though the problem is that scammers know this, too. These con artists always dangle too-good-to-be-true rental deals as a lure to get you to contact them. Afterward, when you respond to them, they will begin to use many different tricks to try and take your money while leaving you without a rental home to show for it. The good news is that rental listing scams are often easy to spot if you only understand how they work. With some good information and a few strategies, you can easily avoid falling into a rental scammer’s trap.

How to Spot a Scam

Rental scammers utilize several different methods to accomplish their schemes. One common technique is to steal a legitimate rental listing or ad, change the contact information, and place the altered ad on another site. An additional common scam is to run ads for rentals that don’t exist or aren’t for rent. They will often include beautiful pictures and some too-good-to-be-true rental rate to pursue their goal, to get your interest.

Spotting these scams isn’t always easy, but it is possible. Their initial red flag is concentrating on the rental price. When it seems too low for the local market, it’s probably a scam. Another clue is in the rental listing itself. Rental scammers often come from outside the United States and may post ads with poor grammar, odd wording, or other unusual features. When you experience this kind of advertisement, it is better to avoid it.

If you do contact a rental listing ad that looks legitimate, that is the moment when you may encounter a few more warning signs. Scammers will often ask you to wire them money for a security deposit, application fee, or first month’s rent. These guys always make odd excuses about why they can’t show you the property or claim to be out of the country. Their major red flag is if they prefer to make arrangements through an “agent” or someone who is not a professional property manager. In case you encounter any of these amidst your rental home search, move on.

How to Protect Yourself

If you become suspicious of a rental listing, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from being scammed.

  • Initially, dig a little deeper into the owner or the listing. Make an internet search on both. If you acknowledge the same ad with different contact information, it is better to avoid them. It’s probably a scam.
  • If that checks out, ask for a copy of the lease terms in writing and read it carefully. It should spell out all rental payments, fees, and responsibilities.
  • Be cautious not to give out your personal information, like your Social Security number, except if you are confident that they are who they say they are.
  • Also, it is necessary to have a signed lease before sending any money to the owner or landlord.
  • Never send anyone money by wire transfer or send money for a rental to an overseas address. Those are clear signs of a scam, and there is a high possibility that you will never get that money back, even if you report the theft.

Lastly, if you discover a rental listing scam, you should contact the website where the ad was posted and report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). If you have become the target of a scam, it’s important to report it to your local police.

You can avoid becoming the victim of a rental listing scam altogether by working with Real Property Management Tri-Cities. As a professional property manager, we can inform you about upcoming listings that have been verified through the proper channels. Contact us online or give us a call at 509-572-5440 if you’re looking for a great rental in Pasco.

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.