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Tips for Avoiding Scams and Fraudulent Listings

Your search for dream apartment can become the worst nightmare of your life if you get caught by real estate scams. Scammers are there in every industry and the way they tangle you is hard to avoid. Rental fraud is when a landlord or agent pretends to sell a property which does not exist. These fake owners collect processing fee, security deposit and application fee before you identify them as scammers.

Types of Rental Frauds

If you are aware of rental fraud types, chances are you are going to avoid false listings. Here are the most common rental scam types:

Bait-and-Switch: A property is advertised on a lower mortgage rate and the scammer collects deposit fee before you come to know the higher rate of the property.

Already Leased: As the name suggests, a scammer collects deposit fee for a property that is already leased.

Hijacked Ads: A scam artist advertised a real property with fake contact information.

Phantom Rentals: A real or fake landlord lists the properties which do not exist or aren’t rentals.

How to identify a Rental Scammer?

There are some warning signs which can help you identify scam listings:

  • Often the rental scammers show that they are out of town. They claim that they have a property which you are looking for but can’t meet you personally.
  • Most of the fake agents pretend to be military soldier, UN worker or a missionary. If your agent is one of these, chances are he is making you fool.
  • He/she will call you in odd hours which is an indication the scammer is working from overseas.
  • If the property owner is asking your financial information right from the start, be careful and don’t do that.

How to avoid Scams and Fraudulent Listings?

If the listing looks genuine to you, there is still a chance of fraud and you would never want to lose your life saving to a scammer. Take the following steps to be on the safer side:

  • Visit the Property in Person
  • Ask to speak to current renters
  • Only contact reliable Real Estate Companies
  • Ask for Real Estate License to your agent
  • Never pay with Cash or Wire Transfer
  • Double-check prices and rent before signing the lease

Read Also: How To Avoid Vacation Rental Scams