TIP: Online Rental Scams

When looking to rent a new apartment or house, you have to consider things like cost, size, and location. You should also consider that the listing may be a scam. Having the rental market primarily online opens the door for a variety of scams a potential renter can easily fall victim to.

Here are some tips to help you recognize rental scams:

Requests for wire transfers:  The easiest sign of a rental scam is when someone asks you to wire money or payment. If it’s for an application fee, a credit check, a security depost – it doesn’t matter. It is never a good idea to wire money to someone. Wire transfers stand out because unlike a check or credit card payment, it is essentially impossible to stop the payment.

They are unavailable to meet you in person: A big red flag for spotting a scam is when the owner, agent, or landlord cannot show you the listing in person. Excuses include that the owner is sick, out of the country/town, on a mission, job opportunity, or military service. They still insist that you send or wire money. Never send money without viewing the apartment. Scammers have been known to send fake contracts or lease agreements via email which unfortunately adds credibility to their ruse.

The price stands out: Potential renters should be keenly aware of listings with a price that is drastically different from similar properties in that area. This can mean that the price is much lower than other apartments in the area and is “too good to be true”. Another example is when a landlord or owner will request a security deposit that is abnormally high compared to those associated with other listings. Many times these properties don’t actually exist. Scammers often steal information from legitimate listings and post it on another site at a different price, or with slightly different contact information.


Potential renters should always keep these things in mind when looking online:

– Always meet the landlord or agent in-person and at the property. If you are moving to a new location and cannot be there, send someone you trust to check out the listing.

– Never send money for any reason before seeing the apartment.

– Always do your research. Know the market price for similar listings, make sure the listing actually exists, and check other websites for the listing to confirm its information.