Scams exist in many forms, from identity theft to credit card fraud. Rental fraud is another type of scam many Americans encounter, but it often escapes renters’ attention because there is little existing data on its pervasiveness.
Rental fraud is an unfortunate yet common experience for many renters. An estimated 43.1 percent of renters have encountered a listing they suspected was fraudulent, and 5.2 million U.S. renters have lost money from rental fraud. Because of this, renters have become more and more cautious when searching for apartments. Of renters who encountered a listing they suspected was a scam, regardless of if it actually was a scam or not, 85.2 percent ignored these listings. An additional 88% of renters actually change their rental search process to avoid the common ways of getting stuck in a scam.
In order to avoid being seen as a fraudulent listing, make sure you can’t check off anything on this list:
- Your Listings Lack an Address or Pictures: If a listing lacks an address or photos, it is more likely to be seen as fake. If you have listings for the same rental on various sites, make sure the contact information and listings details are the same throughout as renters do compare with other sites.
- Too-Good-to-Be-True Prices: Scammers will often list properties at below-market value in order to attract more interest from renters. If you find have apartments listed at prices much lower than comparable rentals in the same neighborhood, try to provide an explanation as to why this is.
- Screening Process: In order to attract renters with limited options, for example, those with poor credit or a criminal record, scammers will advertise apartments with no screening process. If you do have a screening process, make sure its advertised in a place obvious to potential renters.
- Encourage Property Visits Before Signing: Visiting a property is the best way for a renter to detect fraud because they will be to make sure the apartment matches the listings details and pictures.
- Make Yourself Look Legitimate: In some cases, scam artists will post listings with vague contact information and very little personal information. Include a picture of yourself or your team on your site to show that you’re real.
- Post Testimonials from Current Tennents: Hearing from current tenants will provide further aid in verifying that you and your company are legitimate.
- Do Not Ask for Payments in Cash or by Wire Transfer: Scam artists generally ask for payments in cash or via wire transfer because this form of payment is impossible to track. Most renters have caught onto this method of fraud and will avoid this type of payment at all costs.
- Be Careful with What Confidential Information You Ask For: Rental applications generally require providing confidential information, such as a social security number or bank account number. If anything beyond this is asked, renters may become suspicious and abandon the application
For additional tips and tricks, you can read this article from a renters prospective here.
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