Rental Scams to Watch Out For
Learn How to Protect Yourself
Fraudsters have been known to “hijack” rental ads from one website, and post them to another website – claiming to be the landlord.
The scammers cash in once they convince renters that they’ve secured the rental and a deposit is paid. The scammers payment method of choice is usually Western Union money transfers.
Dead Giveaways of Fraudulent Rental Listings and Landlords
- #1. They can’t ‘meet you in person. The majority of fraudulent “landlords” always state that they are out of the country, either for work or vacation, and cannot meet in person.
- #2. They tug at the heart-strings. Fraudsters like to “bless you” and make praise to God and other religious references in their email correspondence. They might tell you they’re currently volunteering at an African orphanage, on a pilgrimage, or even in the midst of a medical or family crisis.
- #3. It’s all too good to be true. As life has already taught you: if the deal sounds too good to be true; it probably isn’t.
How to Protect Yourself
Remember to deal locally and always meet with a landlord in person. Never advance funds to landlords you haven’t met. Most home rental websites like HomeButton.ca do not offer payment processing or purchase protection – they simply connect renters with landlords.
Use common sense and do not send money to someone outside your region and remember to take practical business precautions!
Learn to Spot Legitimacy
Once you’ve connected with a landlord, take a look at their email address. If it ends in @hotmail.com, @gmail.com, or any other “free” web-based email service extension, take precautions. Fraudsters use free email services like this because they can set them up quick without having to provide any identification or credentials. Their next move is then to hijack a listing from a home rental website, post it as their own, and then wait for renters like you to take the bait.
Home rental websites like HomeButton.ca cannot validate the credibility of landlords using free, web-based email accounts. Remember though, that many credible landlords DO use such accounts so you have to look a little deeper.
If you have concerns, speak with the landlord over the phone and certainly meet in person. If you still have concerns, take extra precautions.
For your safety, HomeButton publishes a page containing verified landlords under the wing of professional property management companies here http://homebutton.ca/property-management-companies/. You can rest assured that these are credible sources to find your next house or apartment rental.
Remember to Do Your Part to Help Other Renters
If you come accross a suspicious rental advertisement, or connect with a landlord who you believe to be posting a fraudulent listing, report them. Start by reporting the listing to the administrators of the website you found them on. Be sure to request confirmation that the website administrators forward the details to the proper authorities. If you do not receive confirmation, report the listing yourself. Doing your part in helping to identify fraudulent ads may help other renters who may have ignored the signs.
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