The Internet is known for many wonderful things: making information more accessible to the general public, connecting loved ones all over the world, bizarre cat videos…the list goes on and on. It has, however, paved the way for a variety of digital crimes, including rental scams.
When you’re months into your apartment search and sifting through listing after listing, you may be tempted to go for the post with the most—everything you’ve ever wanted in an apartment (dream location, every amenity imaginable, etc.) for hundreds of dollars less than your budget.
In that case, you’d almost certainly be falling right into the hands of a cunning rental scammer.
Two important rental scams you may fall victim to
Not every rental space is as legit as the one in Smart City Islamabad. Chances are you may fall into housing schemes for rental or investment purposes that are unapproved by authorities or even as
Some scammers steal legitimate rental listings and replace the contact information with their own phone number or email address. To avoid this type of scam, look up the address online to see if the listing is already on other websites. Check that the contact information is the same as the one you’ve been looking at.
Some con artists completely fabricate (the dark side of creativity) listings for units that are either unavailable or do not exist at all. To make sure your dream listing isn’t fake, reverse search the images in the ad. It’s the quickest way to determine whether the images are stock photos or belong to a real, different listing (see number one above).
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5 Easy ways to identify a rental scam
The listing is riddled with typos
Before you even begin talking with anyone about renting a property, you should check to see if the property listing appears genuine. There’s a good chance it’s a scam if it’s riddled with errors like spelling mistakes or makes excessive use of punctuation or capital letters. The same is true if photos or important information are missing, or if the same property is listed multiple times. Be cautious if it appears suspicious, just as you should be with spam emails.
The price appears to be too good to be true
Landlords and letting agents are well-versed in how much properties can rent for. There is no reason why they would charge a tenant significantly less money. After all, it provides them with an income, so it makes sense for them to charge a reasonable rent for that area. It is suspicious if a property is listed far below others in the same area. It is most likely being used to generate a large number of inquiries before requesting an up-front deposit for a property that isn’t actually a legitimate rental.
The house is advertised on a free website
This one isn’t always as clear-cut as the others, as legitimate properties can be found on sites like Gumtree and Facebook. The term “smartphone” refers to the use of a smartphone to access information. Rightmove and Zoopla, as well as legitimate lettings agent websites, are better places to find genuine rental listings.
Being unable to inspect the property in person
This is a huge red flag! The term “virtual reality” refers to the use of virtual reality in order to create a virtual reality experience. Renting a property can be expensive, and you have every right to inspect the potential residence and ensure that it is suitable. There are no excuses why a viewing should not be available to you – if not in person, at the very least a live virtual walkthrough.
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Being pressured for the payment
Scammers frequently claim that they require a deposit as soon as possible so that you can “reserve” the space before someone else does. You should never pay until you have seen the property and have a valid contract in place. Never transfer money if you are unsure or under pressure to do so. Another red flag is being asked to wire money through a service like Western Union, which indicates that it is being sent internationally. If a genuine landlord is based abroad, they will use a letting agent to manage their properties and manage their finances.