Vacation season is fast approaching! As you consider issues like size, cost, and location of a rental, also consider this: that rental listing could be a scam. Scammers often advertise rentals that don’t exist or aren’t available to trick people into sending money before they find out the truth. Being savvy when you’re in search of a rental is well worth the effort. Here are some signs you may be dealing with a scam:
They tell you to wire money
This is the surest sign of a scam. There’s never a good reason to wire money to pay a security deposit, application fee, first month’s rent, or vacation rental fee. That’s true even if they send you a contract first. Wiring money is the same as sending cash — once you send it, you have no way to get it back.
They want a security deposit or first month’s rent before you’ve met or signed a lease
It’s never a good idea to send money to someone you’ve never met in person for an apartment you haven’t seen. If you can’t visit an apartment or house yourself, ask someone you trust to go and confirm that it’s for rent, and that it is what was advertised. In addition to setting up a meeting, do a search on the owner and listing. If you find the same ad listed under a different name, that’s a clue it may be a scam.
If you find yourself the target of a rental scam, report it to your local law enforcement agency and to the FTC. Contact the website where the ad was posted, too. For more information, visit: consumer.ftc.gov/articles/rental-listing-scams#how