We strive to provide a safe online marketplace, but there is one critical piece of information you should take wherever you go: Always be wary of giving personal information, financial information, or payments of any kind to people you don't know or who haven't been verified.
Red Flags for Scams
Use caution with the following:
- Long-distance inquiries. Take extra care in long-distance situations, especially from users in foreign countries. We have seen a number of scam attempts that involve individuals in foreign countries who say they are interested in purchasing or renting out a home.
- Requests that you send a check or money order, or wire funds. Most scams eventually involve such a request, and there are many variations. A scammer may have convincing reasons why they need to deal remotely. They may wire overpayment of funds to you and request that you wire back a refund. They may ask you to use a false online "escrow service". Do not wire funds to anyone you haven't met personally. Also, do not accept wire funds that you did not initiate.
- Requests for personal and/or financial information. With identity theft on the rise, it is a good general rule to provide your personal/financial information sparingly, and only to trusted sources. Do not sign up for online bill pay and transfer money until you have a signed contract and have met and seen the place you're renting.
- Typos, grammatical errors and inflated stories. Emails that are filled with spelling and grammatical errors are usually a sign of fraud. Also, the sender might claim the importance of themselves or the person they are representing ("I work with the United nations development program") and could also weave an involved story about family issues.
- An agent or landlord should never ask for personal information or a phone verification code prior to seeing a property. Any requests for bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, or being asked to provide them with a code sent to your cell phone via text or call are all signs of a potential scam. Report Scams and Fraud If you find a fraudulent listing. You may also contact the following authorities to report possible fraud:
Federal Trade Commission: via its toll free hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357) or the FTC online complaint form • Federal Bureau of Investigation's internet Fraud Complaint Center • Non-emergency number for your local police department.
Examples of Scams:
Below are examples of five fraudulent scams and how they work.
"I'm out of the country and need you to wire me the deposit." How the scam works: You find a great rental (it's usually too good to be true), but the landlord is located out of state or out of the country. They'll rent it to you and mail you the keys if you just send a deposit. Tip: Don't wire money to anyone you haven't met in person. If it looks like a great deal and is too good to be true, it's likely a scam. You will lose your money, and the place you were looking at isn't really even on the market.
"Oops, I overpaid you with my money order. Please send some back." How the scam works: A renter or buyer agrees to wire you money for a deposit, but accidentally sends too much. They ask you to wire back the overpayment and you must "act now." You send the "overpayment" back and their check fails to clear the bank. Now, the money you sent is gone forever. Tip: Don't wire money to anyone you haven't met in person.
"Please wire me a deposit. the software will guarantee your money!" How the scam works: You're asked to wire money, and told that us (or some other authoritative-sounding organization) will guarantee the money and protect you. No such guarantee exists. Tip: If you wire money based on communication that "the software will guarantee it," you will become a victim of a scam and it's unlikely you will get your money back. Remember: we are NOT responsible for tenants guaranteed transactions.
"I have a lot of money and need your help moving it out of the country." How the scam works: Someone very official or important-sounding needs your help moving money, and they promise you a large bonus in return. If you reply, they ask for relatively small sums to move the process along (fees, verification checks, etc). Tip: Beware long-distance inquiries, requests to wire funds, or requests for personal information.
"I want to rent your property. Please send sensitive information." How the scam works: Someone contacts you remotely and proposes to buy or rent your property. They may ask for personal information that can be used to steal your identity or rob your bank account. Tip: Beware long-distance inquiries or requests for personal information.
Dec. 27, 2022