Advice on avoiding rental scams

We offer an online rental management platform for real estate agents, owners, landlords, and property managers to collect rental applications, TransUnion credit reports, criminal background checks, and nationwide eviction reports.  We have implemented a number of measures to mitigate fraudulent requests and ensure a safe experience for applicants. However, we ask applicants to be vigilant when considering applying to properties they find online. Please be aware that some individuals online may post fake rental ads for the sole purpose of scamming a potential renter. For this reason, we have compiled the following list of tips on recognizing potential scams to help provide a safer online rental experience.

Rental Search Safety Tips

If it seems "too good to be true," it probably is and you should beware

Did you find a property with monthly rent well below the market value or area? Is the property representative offering to overnight keys to you if you pay the deposit? Make sure to compare to other properties in the area. Trust your instincts, never send money without seeing the rental, stop all communications, and walk away from any suspicious situation. 

Check out who you're dealing with online

Make sure to meet your property representative in person before deciding to apply to a rental property. If you feel like any contact or communication you are receiving is suspicious, look up the individual's name or company online to see if you can find any further information.

If you find contact information different than what you currently have, especially related to a sale vs. a rental, try reaching out and asking about the property. Lastly, don't be afraid to ask for a license number if dealing with a real estate agent!

Avoid unusual forms of payment

Some property representatives may ask you to use a specific service or method of payment. Be cautious when asked to use a wire transfer service, such as Western Union or MoneyGram, or an online escrow service when sending money (such as a down payment or security deposit) for a property. Always try to deal locally and be cautious of sending money overseas. Try to avoid services such as PayPal or Venmo as much as possible. 

Never rent a property "sight unseen"

Before sending or paying any money (including by cashier's check), ensure that the property's condition, size, features, and amenities match what was described in the online listing by visiting the property yourself or by asking a friend to visit for you. Don't fall for "send me the deposit and I will send you the keys."

Be wary of property representatives who claim to be out of the country or unable to communicate via the telephone. This can include video calls and/or voice calls. 

Where to Report Online Fraud

If you suspect or become a victim of online fraud, promptly report the incident to local law enforcement authorities. Additionally, please consider contacting one or all of the following online resources:

Internet Crime Complaint Center

www.ic3.gov

Federal Trade Commission

www.ftc.gov

Identity Theft

If you believe that your personal financial information has been revealed to a person who might use it inappropriately, visit the FTC's identity theft website at www.consumer.gov/idtheft for important information about protecting yourself.

Have questions or suspicions about a property?

Please email us at support@rentspree.com or call us at (323) 515-7757.