Renters: Beware of Rental Scams

rental scams, California homes for rent

Ingredients for Rental Scams

  • 1 Bad Economy
  • Millions of Abandoned Homes
  • 36 Million Renters in Need of Affordable Homes

Now, combine the three main ingredients in a large rental database, and you’ve got the makings of a con just waiting to happen. Adopted in the early 1980s, this scam isn’t necessarily a new one, but it is one where the con artists are becoming bolder in their approach.

Renters, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, are just looking for decent homes where they can raise their family without putting themselves further into debt trying to pay an enormous amount in rent. Experts agree that rent should be no more than 30 percent of your annual income.

Con artists know this. They know renters crave a place to call home – which 36 million Americans are – that is affordable. That is why it’s so easy for con artists to “offer” homes for the unbelievable price of $750 – in an area where rents aren’t offered for anything less than $1,500.

Familiarizing yourself with scams such as hijacked ads and phantom rentals can help you avoid falling victim and losing out on a substantial amount of money. Remembering the expression, “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” will pay off in the long run.

The Two Most Popular Rental Scams

Hijacked Ads: Con artists typically hijack a legitimate rental listing including its pictures and address (if listed) and then proceed to alter it so that it reflects their contact information and a different – in most cases, cheaper – rental rate. The altered ad is then placed on a different site for all to see.

Phantom Rentals: The main difference between this scam and hijacked ad scams is that the homes don’t actually exist. Most of the time the home listed for rent is often already occupied, usually by its original owners, or it’s for sale. The goal of the con artist in these scams is to get your money before you find out.

Signs You Should Proceed With Caution

  • Wire fund requests.
  • Long-distance landlords.
  • Verification code requests.
  • Personal or financial information requests.
  • Sob and called to active military duty stories.

If you find any of our rental listings on another site and have reason to believe that they are fraudulent, please contact Pro-Edge Property Management at (831) 438-3343 to report your findings. If you believe you’ve been scammed, or you are the target of a scam, be sure to report the incident to the FTC.

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