Homes For Rent Scam In Online Classifieds
When looking for a house rental, many renters turn to online sources such as rental homes websites and online classified ads such as Craigslist.
These are fantastic resources for renters looking for houses for rent. But there are convincing house for rent scams out there that can trick individuals and family into giving money to someone that has nothing to do with the property in question.
I came accross this house renting scam first hand while looking for a local rental house for my family. The price seemed to good to be true, but the ad had just been posted and looked legit, so I sent a e-mail requesting information.
In addition I googled the house address posted in the house rental classified ad. I came up with a Zillow.com page that listed this house as a rental. On the Zillow page was a link to the real estate company handing the rental home. Their house rental website listing showed that this house was actuall $600 more a month then when the classified ad posted.
I called the real estate company and was informed that their craigslist listing had been copied and pasted and that the one I came accross was the exact same, except the price had been lowered and the e-mail went to someone who claimed they lived in Africa and would not be able to meet with me, but would send the keys and documents to me upon sending the security deposit.
Is This House Rental A Scam?
Not sure if the house you are interested in is legit or a scam? Here are some hard and fast rules to getting into a legitimate home rental.
- Legitimate houses for rent will be available for viewing and visiting before signing a lease or paying any money out of pocket.
- The majority of landlords are going to require a credit check and possibly a background check. They will also request that a complete application be filled out. Legitimate landlords want to cover their bases as losing money to renters who default on their rent is a big concern for them. If they are not that interested in covering their bases, you may want to walk away.
- You should not under and circumstances need to send money out of country. Sending money to someone in another country is a quick way to lose that money as their is no jurisdiction to track them and get your cash back. This is why these house renting scams continue to be so prevalent.
How To Check If A Home Rental Classified Ad Is A Scam
- Gather any identifing information. The house address, phone numbers, etc.
- Google the information and look up the house on Zillow.com, check for discrepancies.
- Ask the poster for local contact information if they are asking for any information to be sent outside of your area.
- DO NOT SEND ANY INFORMATION ABOUT YOURSELF.
How To Fight Rental Home Scams
If the house rental classified ads poster is out of country, there may be little you can do.
You can ask for a paypal address and report them for illiegal activity to paypal if they offer you one.
If they are in the United States, or the country you live in. File a police report. Gather any information they can provide you, (pry for more when possible) and use this against them. Report report report, in any way you can. You may have been smart enough to see through the house for rent scam, but others may not. Save them the trouble and money. Report the ad, and report the poster.