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Looking to Rent? Five Questions to Ask to Avoid a Scam

By HOM Editorial Team
April 2016

Fast Fact: First and last month’s rent, plus deposit, is a significant chunk of cash. Scammers know it, and have mastered the art of stealing it.

It’s tough enough to find an affordable rental in today’s tight market, so when you see that oh-it-looks-perfect place for an even more perfect price, take a closer look. It could be a scam. To avoid being a victim, ask yourself these 5 questions.

  • Does the landlord or agent say they’re unable to meet you at the property?
    Scammers often say they’re out of the country, on a mission, etc. Instead they’ll send pictures and offer to send keys if you send payment. The keys won’t let you in.
  • Are they rushing you?
    Scammers try to rush you into sending them money before you have time to sense something’s not right. So don’t let anyone rush you into anything — especially if they want the money wired.
  • Do they make a lot of spelling and grammar mistakes?
    Many scams are operated from other countries.
  • Does the house seem staged like it’s for sale?
    Scammers often break into unoccupied homes on the market. When you arrive, they’re already in the house.
  • Is the price a little too good?
    To create a deal you simply can’t refuse, scammers often price rentals under the market rate. If a rental sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Your local REALTORS® are always on the look out, protecting you from rental scammers. And working with a REALTOR® is one way you can protect yourself.

If you do come across an online rental scammer, you can report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Center.

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