Googling rental scams, hundreds of postings appear and the top 10 articles today have the FBI, local police forces, and news stations warning renters that rental scams are on the rise. In 2016, CBS Baltimore reported, “Last year, more than 200 Marylanders were ripped off at a total cost of about $650,000. Nationally, scammers cost victims more than $40 million in 2015.”
What to look for?
These scams primarily come in the form of:
- Fake rental ads – listing and showing a vacant home for rent
- Hijacked rental ads – re-posting of someone’s home for rent or sale
- Requirement of money up front – via Western Union/wire, Moneygram or money card
- Requirement of personal information right away
- Below-market rent
- Communication only by email or text – often with grammatical mistakes/typos, too much of their personal information, and a reference to being out of the country on a non-profit or church-related mission
- Inability to show the rental
So, how can transferees protect themselves?
It’s important that your transferees are totally comfortable throughout the transition process from one city (or country) to another, and the rental finding piece of the transfer process can be a difficult one if things are missed or not discovered until it’s too late.
As a corporate rental finding service, we offer a few suggestions:
- Do a search of the owner and listing, and ask to see a photo ID to ensure they match. If you find the same ad listed under a different name, that’s a clue it may be a scam. www.searchq.com or www.beenverified.com can verify owner, and www.trulia.com usually will list if the home is in foreclosure.
- Be realistic about cost.
- 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 as advertised.
- Never send money to someone you don’t know. If a hold deposit is needed, have someone you trust provide a check or cashier’s check and get a receipt, and only after verifying the items above.
At PorchLight, we include a lease review within our services; we offer virtual tours in the event a transferee is trying to rent something without seeing it; and we can verify the owner and confirm that the home is not in foreclosure.
A rental finding service will help you avoid these scams and other potential issues. Whether you’re an HR professional working with relocating employees, or you’re relocating yourself, keep these tips in mind to ensure safety and protection.
Peace of mind, a new address, success!
If you’re concerned your relocation partner may not be 100% looking out for your transferees’ safety, download our free e-book: 13 Questions to Ask a Potential Rental Finding Partner
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