How to detect and avoid a rental scam
A year ago we wrote on how to avoid a rental scam. Unfortunately rental scams have only continued to increase in frequency and complexity since then. In this article we will review a few rental scams, how to detect them and resources you can use in avoid becoming a victim.
Types of Rental Scams
- Individuals posing as the owner - One of the most common methods for scammers is the individual claiming to be the owner.
- Individuals or companies claiming to be representing the owner - This is a new variation of the same type of scam. Scammers have been known to take public data such as Real Estate License Information or information of marketing material to pose as a real estate professional to either gain access to a property or to take deposits or rent funds from prospect tenants.
How to Detect Them
Landlords that are long distance
A large amount of scams originate from our of country or out of area. They will usually involve a story of a person who has had to relocate on short notice and will not be in the area to allow you to meet you in person or to show you the property. Typical professions that are used in these scams are doctors, UN workers, soldier and researcher.
Request to Send them money long distance
They will typically ask you to send a wire transfer or other funds. They will insist to send you funds without viewing the property, speaking to you or meeting with you in person.
Requests Confidential Information
Never under any circumstances provide financial information, social security numbers or bank account information to people you cannot verify. Verify it is a owner or agent of the owner.
Make sure the person showing the property is truly allowed to either show the property or to rent it out. Does the person showing the property have full access to the property?
Too good to be true
The rent in the area is $2,000.00 and you see it marketed for $1,000.00. Scammers use this method to bring in as many potential victims in a short period of time as possible.
How to Avoid Being A Victim
- Never wire funds to anyone you cannot verify as a real person.
- Ask for some form of verification that the person marketing the property has the right to rent the property out.
- Never send funds or send financial documentation prior to seeing a property or meeting a owner or the owners representation.
- Ask questions. A scammer that is from a different area will not be able to answer common questions about the property and the area the property is from.
- When in doubt ask. As a free service if you have a question about any property in our service areas in Southern California send us an e-mail. We will see what we can find out for you.