How to protect yourself against housing scams

If you’re in the market for temporary travel nurse housing, it’s essential to be aware of the various types of housing scams that are out there. Fraudsters will go to great lengths to try and steal your money, so it’s crucial that you know how to protect yourself.

We will discuss some tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of housing fraud.

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What are some of the most common housing scams that people fall for?

One of the most common types of housing scams is when fraudsters pose as landlords or property managers and list fake rental properties online. They’ll often use real photos of properties that they’ve found online, and post them as if they’re available for rent. Once you reach out to them, they’ll try to get you to send them money for a deposit or other fees.

Another common scam is when fraudsters pose as renters looking for a roommate and write advertisements looking to rent part of their properties. They may even send fake photos of themselves to try and appear legitimate. Once they’ve gained the trust of the potential renter, they’ll ask to have money wired for the security deposit or first month’s rent.

What are some red flags to watch out for?

When you’re looking for housing online, be wary of any listings that seem too good to be true. If the price is significantly lower than similar listings in the area, it’s likely a scam.

Here are the top Red Flags you should watch out for to prevent being scammed

The landlord does not want to meet you in person or show you the property before getting a deposit

This is never a good sign when the potential landlord or roommate does not want to meet you in person before asking for a deposit. You should always have access to a real-time video walkthrough of the property or the ability to see the property in person. A good landlord or roommate will want you to feel comfortable with the process.

The landlord wants you to move in immediately prior to seeing the property

When a landlord is pressuring you to move in right away without even seeing the property, this is another huge red flag that something may not be right. Most legitimate landlords or roommates will want you to have the opportunity to see the property and meet them in person before making any decisions.

They will use tactics such as this property will go very quickly, or I have many renters looking at the property, and I cannot hold it for you. They may also tell you to inspect the property by walking around the outside of it at your convenience, as they have no way to enter the property to show you the inside unless you provide a deposit.

Do not fall for these types of scams.

The landlord asks for rent or a security deposit before signing a lease

This is a huge red flag, as you should never have to pay rent, application fees, or a security deposit without signing a lease or seeing the property. This is one of the most common ways that scammers will try to get your money. Be sure to read over any lease agreement carefully before signing it, and do not give any money until you have a signed lease in hand.

Some scammers will try to collect large sums of money and state that they live overseas, and you will need to forward the money in order for them to send you the keys, or the scammer will ask you to wire money, but you have never had a phone conversation with them prior.

If the potential landlord uses these excuses, it’s safe to say these listings are most likely fraudulent, and you should cease all communications.

The price is too good to be true

If a rental listing has a price that is significantly lower than other listings in the area, it’s likely a scam. Be sure to do your research on average rental prices in the area before making any decisions. You can research on websites such as Zillow to assess units that are comparable sizes, within the same location, and offer the same amenities.

Scammers attempt to use the “bait and switch” technique to lower the rent price to lure potential renters in before removing the listing and replacing it with a more market-appropriate price. Then they will use approaches such as getting you to act fast before another rent signs the lease despite the sudden change in price.

While not all properties with lower market prices are fraudulent, you should still be wary of these housing options.

The listing has grammar or spelling errors

If a listing has grammar or spelling errors, this is another red flag that you should take into consideration. Oftentimes, scammers are in a hurry to get your money and will not take the time to proofread their listings. This is especially true for international scammers who may not have English as their first language.

Additionally, scammers may use fake names or photos in their listings. If the name on the lease does not match the name on the listing, this is another sign that you may be dealing with a scammer.

The landlord does not screen their tenants

A good landlord will want to know who they are renting to and will likely require a background check and/or credit check. If the landlord does not screen their tenants, this is a huge red flag. They may be attempting to avoid detection from law enforcement or may simply not care who they rent to as long as they get paid. In either case, you should be wary of these types of landlords.

The landlord will want you to sign an incomplete lease agreement

Lease agreements are legally binding documents, and as such, they should be complete before you sign them. If the landlord asks you to sign an incomplete lease agreement, this is a red flag. The landlord may be attempting to add clauses to the lease after you have signed it, or they may be trying to get you to sign a blank document. In either case, you should not sign an incomplete lease agreement.

If you come across any of these red flags, it’s essential to trust your gut and move on to another housing option.

There are many other housing scams out there, but if you remember these tips, you’ll be one step closer to finding a safe and secure place to live.

How can you protect yourself against these scams?

The best way to protect yourself against these scams is to educate yourself on common housing scams and red flags to look out for. Additionally, you should always trust your gut instinct. If something feels off about a listing or the landlord, it’s probably best to move on to another option.

  • Make sure you thoroughly vet the rental listing: Do your research and make sure the red flag signs are not there. If they are, skip the listing and move on to the next.
  • Meet the landlord in person: Make sure you are able to view the property inside and out. Does the name on the lease match the name on the listing? Was the landlord friendly and motivated to rent the property to you without making you feel rushed?
  • See the property in person first before signing any leases: Always try to visit the property in person before signing any leases. This way, you can confirm that the listing is legitimate and that the property is in the condition that was advertised.

What should you do if you think you've been scammed?

If you think you may have been scammed, the first step is to reach out to your local law enforcement and file a report. Sometimes the authorities are able to press charges and get your money returned. However, many times this may not be the case depending on the scam.

Contact the website to have the listing removed. If you found the listing on a rental website, make sure to reach out to them and have the listing removed. This way, you can help prevent other people from falling victim to the same scam.

Report the scammer to the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC is a government agency that helps protect consumers from scams. By reporting the scammer to the FTC, you can help them stop other scammers and help prevent people from being scammed in the future.

Lastly, you will want to report the scammer to IC3. The IC3 is the Internet Crime Complaint Center. This is a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center. By reporting the scammer to IC3, you can help them investigate and hopefully prosecute the scammer.

Conclusion

Housing scams are becoming more and more common, especially with the current state of the economy, but there are ways to protect yourself. By following the tips in this article, you can help avoid becoming a victim of housing fraud.

What are some tips you have for avoiding housing scams? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Happy Travels!!