Do you know how to protect yourself from a rental scam?
ApartmentList reported that some 5 million renters in the U.S. suffered rental fraud. Young renters, or those tempted with below-market rates, are the most likely victims of a rental scam. Here are a few of them: Bait-and-Switch scams involve advertising a different property from the real one. Phantom Rentals are fake listings. Hijacked Ads occur when a fake landlord posts ads for a real property but with different contact information. This happens when ‘for sale’ listings are re-listed as rentals. Always deal with a real owner or legitimate company. Avoid those who prefer anonymity. Even if legit, they may be hard to reach if repairs are needed or problems arise. If someone makes excuses for not having access to the property and suggests you rent it sight-unseen, beware. Avoid high pressure tactics and offers that request personal information. Never pay with cash, wire money or use hard-to-trace cash equivalents. Regular or cashier’s checks are easier for the police to trace. Scammers have been known to make off with a security deposit, first month’s rent, and even prepaid rent! Some charge numerous fees for things like a background check, pets, etc. Get your lease in writing and make sure it’s signed by the landlord. The owner or agent’s name, address and phone number must be disclosed in the paperwork. Verify that the address is real – not some other business. Talk with tenants or neighbors to get a true analysis of the rental.
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