Avoid Scams and Fraudulent Listings

Rental Search Safety Tips

We take great pride in the fact that the vast majority of listings on Rent.com are legitimate; however, please be aware that some individuals may post property rental listings for the sole purpose of scamming a potential renter. While we do everything we can to help and protect renters using Rent.com, occasionally we hear about unusual or suspicious communications between potential renters and individuals posing as property owners which resulted in the renter being scammed. For this reason, we have compiled the following list of tips on recognizing potential scams to help provide a safer online rental experience.

If it seems "too good to be true," it probably is and you should beware.

Does the monthly rent for the apartment seem unusually low or significantly less than market value for the area? Investigate similar apartments in your desired area to determine the approximate rent that you should expect to pay. Trust your instincts, never send money without seeing the rental, stop all communications and walk away from any suspicious situation.

Check out who you're dealing with online.

Make sure to meet your prospective landlord or property manager in person before deciding to rent an apartment or providing any personal information about you. If you feel like any contact or communication you are receiving is suspicious, look up the individual's name or company online to see if you can find any further information.

Avoid unusual forms of payment.

Never use a wire transfer service, such as Western Union or MoneyGram, or an online escrow service when sending money (such as a down payment or security deposit) for an apartment. Always try to deal locally and never send money overseas.

Never rent an apartment "sight unseen."

Before sending or paying any money (including by cashier's check), ensure that the apartment's condition, size, features, and amenities match what was described in the online listing by visiting the apartment yourself or by asking a friend to visit for you. Don't fall for "send me the deposit and I will send you the keys".

Please be aware that Rent.com does not participate in lease transactions or money transfers.

Do not do business with anyone who promises that Rent.com is handling any part of the actual lease transaction, including payment protection, apartment certification, escrow services or "satisfaction guarantees" of any kind.

Common Signs of Online Apartment Fraud

While none of the examples below are a definite indication of fraud, proceed with caution if you encounter any of these conditions when dealing with a landlord or property manager. Please note that the example emails below contain misspellings, poor grammar and incomplete sentences which are frequently seen in situations where a fraud may exist.

Landlord in distant location

The landlord or property manager claims to reside far away from the apartment, often outside the United States and is unavailable to speak by phone or meet face-to-face.

Example Email

Hello,

The price is $600 per month and i ask a 2 months advance rent payment plus half month a security deposit, so $1,500. The apt is now available, totally firnished, flexible lease, is nice, clean, quiet, has all the facilities and the utilities a man needs including electric Utility, Cable TV, Parking, Laundry in the bldg, Air conditioning, high speed internet, workout facility, well behaved pets are allowed.

I am not in USA, i am in Greece teaching deaf people to "talk", i am deaf too. I left the apt three months ago, i haven't had pets, i kept the apt clean, i have no children and i am not married. This would be a perfect apartment for you.

I am ready to lease the apt for extra income. If you are interested in it please reply and we will establish the lease terms, please give me your #, i will call you via a relay company if needed.

Thank you!

Pressure to complete transaction

You are being rushed or unusually pressured into paying a fee, deposit or initial rent amount before you have had an opportunity to view the apartment.

Example Email

Frank, I managed to forward your information at Rent.com and I hope they will be contacting you with more details and instructions soon. The contract will become legal only from the time you move in/if you decide to move in. It is not designed to force you or anything. I apologize if I'm moving too fast but I need to rent this apartment as soon as possible. The only problem is that I have an waiting list (that was created in the email order) and for the moment you are the fourth person interested. If you find something that will not suit you and you dont want to lease anymore, please let me know soon so I can contact the next person that is interested.

Thank you.

Circumstances hard to believe

There is an unusual set of circumstances that attempts to explain why the rent for an apartment is below market value or why the apartment cannot be viewed prior to being rented.

Example Email

Dear Sarah,

Happy to hear of your interest. I live in London most of the time and decided to rent this apartment. The typical rent range for an apartment in this area of town is between $2,000.00 and $2,500.00/month. I'm asking only $800/month because I need a serious and trust worthy person who not only will pay me the rent on time but also will take care and preserve my property. I currently have someone inside (an accountant from a local bank) and she is planning on leaving this week.

I will require payment in advance for every 3 months which means $3,000.00 at every cycle. Rent.com will hold the money for the first cycle until you inspect the apartment and send them your confirmation that you wish to rent. I require the payment in advance at Rent.com because my time is very limited, I don't want to disturb my current tenant. I'm sick of tire-kickers, people who are just looking around and not serious about renting.

If you're ok with my terms and you wish to proceed please forward me your full name and address and I will pass them onto Rent.com. They will contact you with payment instructions in order to secure the deposit/first cycle. The whole process takes less than one day and I will be contacting you over the phone the very next minute I hear something positive from Rent.com and schedule a meeting so you can inspect the apartment. If you will decide to pass and start looking for another place, Rent.com will return you the money 100% as I will be supporting the fees but I'm sure you will like it as everybody else did.

Hope to hear from you soon,

No direct contact with landlord

The landlord or property manager is unwilling to meet you in person or speak with you over the telephone.

Example Email

Dear Kevin,

The apartment is still available. Since my wife died I moved with my bussiness to United Kingdom, and now I`m living in Liverpool. I`m looking for a minimum one year lease contract due to the distance between USA and England. I can't come just to show you the apartment due to the distance between us. You need to fill a rental aplication form if you want me to consider you as a potential tenant.

It is very difficult to handle this process but if we come to an agreement I will be more then happy to come over and go through the lease contract. The appartment is in perfect shape, and everithing inside is brand new. As soon as you see the inside of it you would love it. That is a guarantee. Also small pets are welcome. The rent per month is $1200 and the deposit $1200 aswell.

We are going to sign the lease as soon as you are satisfied with the apartment. Please contact me for some more photos and the Rental Aplication Form.

Regards,

Where to Report Online Fraud

If you suspect or become a victim of online fraud, promptly report the incident to local law enforcement authorities. Additionally, please consider contacting one or all of the following online resources:

Internet Crime Complaint Center

www.ic3.gov

Federal Trade Commission

www.ftc.gov

Identity Theft

If you believe that your personal financial information has been revealed to a person who might use it inappropriately, visit the FTC's identity theft website at www.consumer.gov/idtheft for important information about protecting yourself.

Have questions or suspicions about a property?

Please email us at reportscam@rentpath.com or call at 1-888-501-7368.