Don't Get Scammed!

While we'd like to think everyone is honest and respectful of each other, unfortunately, that's not always the case. Scams are a reality of the Internet. Despite this, Zillow strives to provide a safe online community where users can easily contact one another with advice and information relating to real estate.


Zillow is a media company. Put simply, we make money through advertising. Zillow does not handle money exchanges between buyers and sellers or tenants and landlords. Anyone telling you otherwise is probably trying to scam you.


Always be wary of giving personal information, financial information, or payments of any kind to people you don't know personally. To reduce your chances of exposure to fraudulent activity and to ensure the best possible Zillow experience, please read our FAQ on Scams and Other Internet Fraud:

http://www.zillow.com/wikipages/Beware-of-Scams-and-Other-Internet-Fraud/

Thank you!
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  • March 18 2010 - US
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Be a Good Neighbor. Be respectful and on-topic. No spam or self-promotion! See our Good Neighbor Policy.

 
 

Answers (103)

Be EXTREMELY careful of rentals found on Craigslist. Yes, most are legitimate rental offers, but experts estimate that as many as 20% are scams. Be sure to check Craigslist rental listings against your local MLS rental listings to check if the listing is legit before sending anyone any of your hard earned money.
  • November 28 2010
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Profile picture for SeanGlaze
I post listings on craigslist al the time you just have to use your common sense as always.
  • December 17 2010
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Profile picture for caterichmond
People need to do their own due diligence.  I was a landlord for over 30 years.  What idiot sends an unknown person a deposit on a rental?!  If I was renting today, I would use Skype, use faxes and driver's licenses and that is just a start (for verification).  I only accepted a deposit AFTER I had gone through the lease line by line, but they only received a lease to sign AFTER they had completed a leasing form and paid for a credit check which is included job verification as well as references.  Had few problems and made money because I had full rentals. 
  • January 25 2011
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Profile picture for Sharon Lewis
Debbie, Craigslist seems to be getting that kind of reputation. I think if you have a place to rent put it here. The response have been more positive and always do a credit and background check.
  • February 03 2011
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The most common item in the rental scams is: "I live in another country and I"m the only one that has the keys"
Here is an examples:
Landlord after request for info:
Hello,
    First of all I'm sorry for the late reply but I had a lot to work and this is the time I could give you a message.Thank you for your interest. My name is Lorenzo Russo, the apartment  has 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 1 kitchen and 1 living room.
I am looking for someone to live in it, as soon as possible, because my company has won the auction for a project, in construction, for a building that will rise up in Lecce, Italy. I am a civil engineer, so my accommodation period in Italy will be about 4 years. The renting period is from 1 months upto 1-4 years. As a result of this I want to rent, for this period, at this price and also to find the perfect person for my apartment. I`m the owner of the apt and it's like in the pics.
The apartment is fully furnished, but I have the option of sending all my furniture into storage if you want to bring your own (no extra costs). The rent for 1 month (for the whole apartment)  includes all utilities (water, electricity, Internet, cable, parking, air conditioning, dishwasher, garbage disposal, microwave, refrigerator). You can move in the apt in the same day when you receive the keys. The only problem is that I`m the only person who has the keys but I hope that we will find a solution.
   
Thank you for your interest and I will look forward to hearing from you soon.

Renter:
Thank you for getting in touch with me. I would love to learn more information as to how we can go about setting up this living arrangement. Let me know what would work for you? Can you also give me some information about the neighborhood the apartment is in and its neighbors? Thanks

Landlord:
Here are my terms if you want to rent:
I want 1 month in advance and 1 month rent as bond!


As i said in my first email i am the only one that has the keys so if you want to rent ...We will use TNT for our safety ,they will provide assistance in handling the payment and delivery of the keys and the rent contract.
Here is how we will do it:
- You should give me your full shipping address and phone number.
- With your shipping details i will go to TNT to start the shipping process.
- They will contact you with the details about the shipping.
- After the shipping begins, you will have to pay the funds TNT.
- The company will validate the payment and will keep the money in a trust fund until you are 100% satisfied with the condition of the apartment.
- If you accept the apartment TNT will forward the money to me, if the apartment is not what you expect it to be based on my description, they will make a refund.
- Inspection period is 7 days in order to verify the state of the apartment
  • February 16 2011
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Profile picture for MzRiv
After the problems I had with my former landlady we are having an attorney looks at our new lease before we sign. 

Scams can be local, if you rent an illegal unit your rights are not the same as a regular tenant, in tight markets people rent out everything from a former porch (my former bedroom is one) to garage units. 

Research the property before putting any money down
  • March 28 2011
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If you can not call them directly and find an address for them in one of the popular on line directories, then you should cease all contact immediatly.

Marion
  • March 29 2011
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Profile picture for Dolphinkist

I would think Zillow could at least do a simple records check on their listings or some sort of test to make sure people aren't getting scammed. You present yourself as totally respectable, yet I've gotten two scams on here. That's why I stopped looking other places and came here.

Really, now, what makes you better than Craigslist if you don't do some sort of prelim check? Craigslist also warns you to deal locally and gives tips on how to avoid scams. That's a step up from the places that ARE the scams, but not better.

I expect more.

  • March 31 2011
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Profile picture for MzRiv
the reviews is what makes zillow better than craigslist, I found my former home on craigslist - if I knew then what I know now I would have kept looking.

with so many agents posting so many homes, we can't expect zillow to get the facts on every property.  City records are a no-fee way to look into the history of a property, when researching my former landlady I saw pages of evictions... and lots of city code issues.

Some of this research is best done offline, I went to the building department, they pointed to the correct sites and printed some complaints for me - all for free but I did have to get out of the house and ask for help.
  • April 01 2011
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Thanks David- I get scammed about once per month.  They take my pictures, wording and list the home as their own.  I've had people calling me asking about the status of their application- that I don't have!  They used to significantly lower the rental price- now it's only about a hundred dollars or so.

Things that are red flags: long emails, international phone number, referencing "blessed" and "God".  Meeting you at the home and 'forgetting' the keys.  Saying that the Agent refuses to take their sign down at the property because him as the 'owner' wants to take care of things.  A non-real estate email.

Flag as Prohibited immediately and email Craigslist.

Great idea on the watermark Wallace!
  • April 02 2011
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Profile picture for LisaDaughraty

My family and I are moving from Lowell, Massachusetts to Hope Mills, North Carolina in June of 2011 and I am wondering if there are any individuals in Hope Mills that would be able to help us find a home for rent as we are unable to travel there and look for a place in person.  I am nervous about looking for a place online, but it is our only option so I would like a professional to be able to tell me about the neighborhoods and assisting me in choosing. Thank You for your time and patience.

  • April 08 2011
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Profile picture for MIchael Schaffer
Make sure to research any property you plan to rent, and look into the landlord.  You should verify ownership, check the owners background, and verify that the property is not in default.  [promotional website removed by Zillow moderator] is an easy way to do this.
  • July 19 2011
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Profile picture for Deborah143
having trouble removing a rental home off ZILLOW.COM
My home was rented out over a month ago and I continue, despite emailing ZILLOW and trying to completely take my house off this website, to get calls and emails!
  • August 30 2011
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
Hi Deborah:  I see you joined Zillow today, so to remove the rental listing it takes some detective work.  Did you put the listing on Zillow with a different posting name?   If so, sign in with that name to remove it.    Did you put the listing up yourself, perhaps through Postlets?  If so, it it needs to be removed from Postlets (or other feed provider).   Or, did an agent put it on Zillow?  If so, the agent needs to remove it.   
  • August 30 2011
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Hi Deborah,
The rental needs to be taken down at the source. If you scroll down to the bottom of the listing, you'll see where it is coming from. If you need further help, you can email me at rachelr at zillow dot com
  • August 30 2011
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Profile picture for AmandaBusser
So I'm looking to relocate to Honolulu, HI and I know the cost of living is very high.  Sooo I'm so pleasantly surprised (at first) when I see an amazing apartment for $1800 a month.  But I figure it's "too goo to be true".  http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/2969-Kalakaua-Ave-Honolulu-HI-96815/2124707154_zpid/#{scid=hdp-site-map-list-address}
So I decided to email to see what happens.  I get a reply last night at 2:30 am "It has come to my notice that you are interested in leasing one of my apartment on
house photo
2969 Kalakaua Ave
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815

Listing Price: $1800

Security Deposit: $1000
Bedroom: 2
Bath: 2
Sq.ft: 1100

Haven gone through the details from the site,  I will go straight to the pricing.

Lease Options

1. ONE MONTH PLAN: Pay one month rental fee and security deposit and get 0.0% discount.

2. THREE MONTHS PLAN: Pay three months rental fee and security deposit and get 10.0% discount on rental fee.

3. SIX MONTHS PLAN: Pay six months rental fee and security deposit and get 15.0% discount on rental fee.

4. ONE YEAR LEASE PLAN: Pay six months rental fee and security deposit and get 20.0% discount on rental fee.

5. A flexible Lease option can be arranged.

Monthly Rental Fee: $1800(Utilities inclusive) and Security deposit of $1000

Securing the Apartment:

Payment can be made through the following means:


1.A dedicated Bank Account for long term lease.

It is in your best interest that you get back to me the response to the following questions highlighted above so that I can serve you better.

Joseph"
-----
So of course I replied with my bank account info :)
  • August 30 2011
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I noticed one of my rental properties listed for rent with a phone number.  I played along with a couple of emails to see what I could find out.  It is a scam on Zillow.  They want money and the listing goes to a "postlet" that gives her phone number.  Beware of the scammers.
  • August 31 2011
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Hi Watler, Please email me the address of the rental scam. I"ll send you an email as well in case you do not get the thread update.
  • August 31 2011
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Here in Georgia, you can verify the validity of a company or an agent at the Georgia Real Estate Commission's website.
  • September 01 2011
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Profile picture for Chell0726
I checked into a rental house and sent my email for info. I recieved this email back and it's suspicious to me and would like to report it.
8547 Chateaugay Dr, Indianapolis, IN 46217
Hello,
    It's my great pleasure that you are interested in my lovely home for rent. Actually me and my wife with my daughter resided in this home before and presently we have relocate to WEST AFRICA due to my transfer as a matter of my profession. I work as a volunteer with Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability (ECFA), here is the site for more detail about why i am here in West Africa (www.Wycliffe.org) and my wife who is a missionary working with Bible Translation and  literacy worldwide.
   As soon as we settle down here i had a thought of selling the house but later my wife advised against it. She said we may not be able to win the bidding next time, in other to keep our head when we return that we have to keep the house. I reasoned with her and accepted her advise. Later we decided to have the house rented out. If you notice, you will discovered that the price we are offering is far below standard market price, this is enough for you to know that we are not after the rental fee but the absolute care for our property. I know there is no way i can be sure that you are the right person to live in my house because we won't be able to meet in physical before sending you the keys and the documents to occupy the house. But i just had a feeling that anyone who knows what it takes to put the kind of structure down should know that maintaining a building is mandatory, so if you believe you can take good care of the house and handle it
like yours then i will be more than happy to let you rent the house.
 
 
Monthly Rent: $800
Refundable Security Deposit Payment:$700
Section 8 Available.
Pets Allowed: Cats,Dogs  etc.
Available Date: Available Now.
 
 
  Please if you are interested to occupy my house kindly provide the information below for record purpose :-
 *****RENTAL APPLICATION****
Full Name___________________________________
Current Address________________________ City_____________ State______ Zip Code________
Home Phone (     ) ___________________
Mobile Phone (    ) ____________________
Date of Birth_________________________________
Reasons for Leaving____________________________Rent $__________
Are you married________________
How many people will be living in the house_________________
A Picture of your self if possible______________________
Do you have a pet______________
Do you have a car______________
Occupation____________________________
Monthly Income_________________________
Move In Date___________________________
HOW SOON CAN YOU HAVE THE DEPOSIT PAYMENT SENT TO ME___________________________
HOW SOON DO YOU WANT TO RECEIVE THE KEYS AND DOCUMENTS OF THE HOUSE___________________________
 
You should give me a call as soon as possible so we can proceed ASAP..
 
Please note than you will only be able to drive by the house for now but not have a look at the interior until i have sent the keys and documents of my house to your destination, and the requirement for getting the keys and documents of the house is a fully refundable security payment as stated above, but i am giving you a benefit of doubt that you will love everything about this lovely home. You are advised to act fast on this so you don't loose the house to other interested applicants.
 
 
YOU CAN REACH ME ON THE NUMBERS BELOW
+234-703-087-7578 or 011-234-703-087-7578.
 
I Await your response so that we can discuss on how to get the document and the keys to you.
 
Best Regards,
Alex
wadealex47@yahoo.ocm
  • September 12 2011
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Profile picture for CagrrlstuckinCo
I just recently had a lady trying to scam me. She said the house was for rent, vacant and available for a period of 3yrs. When I went to the home to look around there were people living in it! Said they had just signed the lease a few days prior. When I informed her of this she swore that the house was vacant and she had the only access to the place. Then I come to find out that the home belongs to a company, not an individual. Some people are crazy if they think people will just send off their $ and hope for the best without doing any research.
  • September 20 2011
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Profile picture for kylieb817
We are looking for a rental and found one that seems perfect. BUT the landlord says that he's been transfered to london and has the keys with him. He said we could drive by the house to see it though. He has been emailing me and his phone number is posted on zillow but it just takes to a place where i leave a message every time. What are some question that i can ask him to figure out if this is a scam or not without offending him if it isn't...?
  • October 11 2011
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If you can't meet someone personally and see the home, don't count on it being for real. Usully someone from out of town would have someone..a realtor or property manager taking care of it. Don't give them money! The safest way is to have a realtor find you a rental, but if you want to search on your own, just make sure they are the owners. check the public records.
  • October 11 2011
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Hi Kylie,

Definite Scam.
Always:
*Deal Locally
*Never wire money
*Must have working phone number
*Too good to be true--it is!
  • October 11 2011
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Profile picture for sunnyview
If that landlord says they are in London. It is a scam. I have yet to hear anyone who has legitimately rented from a London landlord, yet there are a lot of scammers that use London as their cover so that you wire them money. Don't fall for it. It's not real.

if you found that house for rent in Zillow please protect others from being scammed by flagging it with the yellow edit pencil to "report problem with listing". Zillow will investigate and remove it ASAP if it is bogus.
  • October 11 2011
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Thank You, It's good to keep informed on what's going on out there.

  • November 11 2011
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Profile picture for JennyGar
We had a craigslist scam too.  They tried to sell us a baby stroller and asked for payment by wire transfer.  Don't know why I paid, but never got the stroller.  Watch out for that one.
  • December 29 2011
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Great advice!
  • February 02 2012
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Dear Zillow - 

There is currently a scam posted on your website. Address is 4823 Ingham - Lansing, MI 48911. I am the property manager. The last sentence of the facts section reads " $480lynette.ohea@yahoo.com". This is not our company e-mail address, nor is this an address for anyone that works for our office. This home is not for sale, nor is it available to rent. Unfortunately, a lady has been scammed, wired money to Nigeria, and assumed she would be moving in to this property. PLEASE remove this ad from your website. I have not been able to figure out to to flag the listing. 

Thank You,
1st Choice Real Estate, PLLC
  • April 17 2012
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
@Jill:  to flag the listing, open the home details page, hover over "edit" and chose "report problem".

  • April 17 2012
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