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Avoid Rentals Scams

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How to avoid rental scams

Posted on Apr, 2022 by MyHome

Before handing over money for any rental property, it is crucially important that you take a number of precautions to minimise your risk of being scammed. Rental scams are sophisticated and highly effective, and scammers will go to great lengths to take you in.

The following guide outlines seven important tips to give you peace of mind, and identifies six common warning signs to watch out for.  It also describes two common and highly effective scams to be aware of.

Seven important tips:

  • Never hand over money before viewing the property and meeting the landlord or an agent in person
  • Do not pay a deposit in cash. Always use traceable forms of payment
  • Do not make any payment unless there is an exchange of key and rental contracts.
  • Check that the keys you are given fit the locks
  • Do not click on any links that look suspicious. Check if the URL you are sent matches that of the official website
  • Check the landlord’s email addresses and phone numbers online for possible reports of fraudulent activity.
  • Check the property location, if possible, to see if the images provided match those of the location.

Six warning signs:

  • The rent is too good to be true i.e. at an unusually low price for a good location
  • The landlord claims to be abroad or says they are unable to conduct viewings of the property
  • The landlord insists payment be made online through Airbnb or other booking sites (these are bogus sites designed to look like Airbnb, but have no affiliation to the actual company)
  • The landlord rushes you to make a payment, giving you ultimatums and stating that they will lease it to someone else if you do not pay them straight away or ask questions.
  • Incorrect contact details and phone numbers i.e. missing numbers, or contact numbers that simply ring out
  • Bad grammar and spelling.Two common rental scams to watch out for
  1. The meet & greet deposit scam
    Potential tenants view a rental property and are requested to pay a deposit and at least one (if not two) months’ rent in advance to confirm they will be renting the property.

When the tenants turn up to move in they find the keys don’t work and they cannot access the property. The person who showed them the apartment is nowhere to be found and not contactable.

  1. The email / online deposit scam
    This scam is similar to the meet and greet scam. Instead of meeting the ‘landlord’, would-be tenants liaise with the fraudster via email regarding the rental property. The scammers request that the tenants pay a deposit directly into a bank account.

The tenants may also be requested to forward the transaction receipt along with a copy of some form of personal ID. Their money is then stolen and, in some cases, their ID is used for further fraudulent activity.

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