Tuesday, June 19, 2012

NEWEST SCAM: Renters Beware

Watch Out for Fake Rentals

There is a new scam, and even the prudent may fall for this one.

How does it work? You need a place to rent. Maybe your home has sold, or your transfer came through and you need a nice rental home fast. Craig's List has a perfect place at an excellent price. When you email the fellow, it sounds perfect. The photos are great. Good neighborhood. Super deal. As a matter of fact, he says you can lock it down if you will just wire the application fee, security deposit and first month's rent.

Your bank is happy to wire the money and you are tickled to send it.

Unfortunately, that is usually the last you hear from anyone. You are so upset, you drive to the home address to find a family who have rented there for three months, and are not ready to move. When you finally track down the real owner, it is not the guy you have been emailing or wiring $2,000.00 to.

You’ve been conned.

These fellows simply copy real rental listings—complete with photos—and then put themselves as the contact information and re-list them. Some just create listings out of thin air.
Either way, they have your money. By the way you still need to spend more to get an actual rental home.

How can you protect yourself from scams like these and others?

1. Don’t get greedy.  If anything is too good to be true, it usually is.

2. Don’t get in a hurry. Think about it. Every foolish decision you have ever made was probably made in a big hurry.

Online resources like trustee’s offices and appraisal sites can show the actual owner’s name. Have a local friend drive to the house and see if it is even vacant.

Rental applications are easy pickings for identity theft. While you fight that battle, your credit will be so ruined for a while it will be difficult to get approved at a legitimate place.

Generally, if moving to a new area, I would rent a monthly room at a Resident’s Inn or long-term suites till I knew the area better. That gives you time to make a better, informed decision and to talk to an owner in person, inside the property.

If you are not greedy and not in a hurry, thieves will often just give up on you and rip off the next guy.

Don’t be that guy.


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