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How do I identify a rental scam?

  • August 08 2012 - Tampa
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Answers (8)

If they ask you to wire money before meeting the owner or an agent in person, don't do it.  If they want any compensation before you go to the home to see it, it's a scam.  Good luck but be careful!

Jeff Metcalf, REALTOR(R)
Watson Realty Corp.
  • September 09 2012
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Profile picture for CarlsbadHomes
1. It it seems too good to be true - it usually is too good to be true.
2. If the "owner" is willing to take you on without a credit check - be careful.
3. Check with the Recorder's office and see who the owner is and if the home is behind on payments - in foreclosure.
4. Read the other great posts on the question for more good answers.
If you are a landlord - there are rental scams also! Our office received $2,000 in Cashier's check that were so phoney it was laughable.
Always trust your gut and if something just does not feel right - be wary.
  • September 09 2012
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Profile picture for RemaxBetty
I am the owner of RentalHomeKC in Olathe, KS and the majority of scams that I have seen is thru craigslist.  The majority will tell you to wire the money to nigeria or London.  Usually the will steal the photos off of our website and use only ones that we don't have watermarked.  They will tell you that they are on a religious mission and had to leave the country very fast.  They will ask odd questions...(like what do you do at night) etc. 

They will also tell you that they fired the local agent so you don't call them.  Once the get someone to contact them the will tell them to go to the house and check it out.  (recently they are telling people to go to the neighbhor and knock on the door)

They have also told one client of mine to take my sign out of the yard...

As others have already said...if the house it too nice and the price looks like the price is cut in half of what you are used to seeing then it is more than likely a scam.

Stick with the "true" rental website and contact them to be put on the waiting list.  Make sure they are local reputable agents. Google the address and make sure that two different prices aren't showing.

Don't call an international number!!!

I hope that helps.

Betty Simmons
  • September 09 2012
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Profile picture for sunnyview
If you have a suspected rental scam on Zillow, you can flag it for removal by clicking the "edit" button to "report problem with listing" and then select "rental scam". Zillow will remove it.

You can also post the address and phone number for the suspected scammer here in this thread so that others can google to avoid the scam.
  • August 08 2012
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Profile picture for Lawrie Lawrence
If you find that zillow is advertising a fraudulent rental you can report it by going to the property page, then clicking "edit" then "report a problem" then describe to zillow, so they may investigate.



There will always be scammers out there.
  • August 08 2012
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just thought of a fifth Red Flag

5. Are they overly understanding and sympathetic if you share that you have any credit problems??

(they don't care about your credit - they only want your money NOW)

  • August 08 2012
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1. Red flag - does the supposed "owner" tell you they are out of state/out of the country, etc.,  and can't meet with you?

2. Red flag - Is the rental price unusually low for the type of unit?

3. Red flag -  are you being asked to wire money (Western Union is often used) to hold the apartment? If so - run fast in the opposite direction!

4. Red flag - is there a detailed "story" behind why they can't meet you.?
(one scammer who used a listing of mine claimed to be disabled and told the unsuspecting potential tenant to peek in the windows of the vacant home as he was in a nursing home out of state,  and couldn't meet there in person)

When in doubt - ask any local agent to please check the tax records for the name of the listed owner.....I know I'd be happy to help someone in this situation..............ask the person to prove they are who they say they are!

And do NOT, I repeat NOT- send money to anyone you haven't met and verified as being the true landlord.
  • August 08 2012
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Profile picture for CCarron
First of all, if the price seems too good to be true, it's almost certainly a scam. Other suggestions: Properties listed for rent with real estate brokers are unlikely to be scams.  If you are dealing directly with owners/landlords: Never send money electronically or by mail.  Never give money to someone who is not at the home you are considering renting.  If you do meet the person at the home who says he or she is the owner, ask to see that person's photo ID (driver's license or state ID Card). Write down the name. Then check your city/county/town real estate records -- most of which are available online -- to make sure the home you are planning to rent is owned by that person before you pay the person.  Even if you are careful with all of the above, the owner may be in default on the mortgage and you may be evicted if the lender forecloses.  Good luck!
  • August 08 2012
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