Rental Scams: Don't Fall For Them

One of the downsides of all the home listings on the internet is the abuse of them by hijackers.  They
go to sites such as Zillow and Trulia, choose a property and turn a legitimate listing into a so-called rental ad, with the listing agent not finding out until he/she receives a bunch of phone calls about a "rental".  In a very expensive and limited rental market, a renter is doubly frustrated when finding out that the seemingly good deal is too good to be true.  So not only is it a waste of time for those searching for a rental property, it's also an extreme annoyance to the listing agent whose listing is illegally used as a dupe and all the misdirected phone calls, as well as the time it takes to correct the situation on the listing site. 

The smarter people knew before they called me that $1200 per month rent for a 2800 sq. ft two-story house in a nice neighborhood of $500,000-$600,000 selling prices was suspicious, but they called me anyway after they drove by the property.  Some actually called the name given on the fake rental ad, which of course used my listing photos and information as if it were their own, and were told to send money before they would be given any more information.  This is the tipoff--a legitimate landlord or management company does not request money, i.e., security deposit or rent, up front for information. 

And another scenario may be that the rental does not exist at all.  Yet another is a rental sign in front of an actual advertised property that is for rent, or it may be a bank-owned property for sale.  In this situation the false advertiser is attempting to get business by re-directing prospective renters to actual rentals--one company has been complained about in California, yet they popped up again with their red and white rental signs on wooden stakes posted on properties that are not their rentals. 

For more information, contact the Federal Trade Commission.  Avoid sending money to people you don't know.

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