How To Tell Legitimate Apartment Rental Ads From Scams

Posted on: 14 May 2015

With apartment rental rates rising and spots becoming scarce in some parts of the country, scammers have discovered a ripe source of victims in those seeking housing from afar. If you are planning on relocating to another city for employment or academic purposes, you may have little choice but to rent long distance. Online classifieds can be a good way to line up an apartment, but they're also the venue of choice for online scammers. Following are three signs that you're dealing with a scammer instead of of legitimate landlord.

They Want You to Wire Money

No legitimate landlord is going to ask you to wire money to them. A common ruse is that they will claim to be out of the country and the only way that they can receive your deposit and rent is through a wire transfer. This scenario is common in areas where apartment vacancy rates are extremely low, and these scammers frequently target student rentals in the hopes that they will be inexperienced enough at renting apartments that they won't question payment method.

The Apartment Seems Too Cheap

Online scammers also lure victims in by advertising cheaper rates than what it normal for the area in which they're located. The old adage about how things that seem to good to be true are usually false is particularly apt when it comes to real estate rentals. Scammers will often take existing listings and repost them on online classified sites, reducing the listed rent significantly in order to lure in unsuspecting victims.

The Application Requires Disclosure of Sensitive Information

Not all apartment rental scams are designed to relieve you of upfront deposit and rent money—some are geared toward identified theft. If you are asked to fill out an online application that involves disclosing your social security card or bank account number, chances are good that you are dealing with a potential identity thief. Although legitimate property management companies may ask for your social security number in order to have a background check performed, no one should ever ask for sensitive banking information in a rental application. Also, background checks should be one of the last things that happen before you sign a lease—avoid potential landlords who ask for one right off the bat.

To determine whether a property management company is legitimate, do some simple online sleuthing to determine that the company actually exists. Don't stop there, though—scammers often pretend to be representatives of real companies in order to gain the trust of potential victims. Calling the company (such as Pacific Properties) yourself at the listed number will verify whether the person you have been dealing with is a genuine representative or a scammer.