Don’t Become a Victim of Apartment Rentals Scams

When you are looking to move into a new apartment or you are traveling and in need of a week long apartment property reservation, the last thing that you want to be faced with is a rental scam. Scam artists are always on the prowl for potential bait. They seek out prospective tenants and prey on human emotions that leave them vulnerable during the apartment searching process.

Some red flags that you should look out for are when “deposits” or “first-month” payments are requested upfront by wire transfer or prepaid debit card and the landlord’s request for you to submit to a background check prior to seeing the apartment.

Here are some things that you should pay attention to in order to protect yourself when searching for an apartment:

Follow to your mind

If you have a funny feeling about a particular rental property or landlord, then you should follow your mind and not waste your time on that property. Chances are if you feel like something isn’t right, then you are probably right. Our human intuition steers us from making decisions that we may regret in the long run.

Where are the photos?

Many listings paint the perfect image in your head of an apartment and all of its amenities. Some of course sound better than others. In many cities paying $900 per month for a 3 bedroom/2.5 bathroom apartment sounds like a real great deal. But what does the apartment look like inside and out and in what neighborhood is that property located? These are the questions that you need to have answered immediately when you run across deals that may sound too good to be true.

Google… Google… Google…

Of course you will want to see a rental property in person prior to providing any money or personal information. But if you are unable to do that, always do an online search of the property. Use the name and address to determine if the property really exists. With this information you can review past guests’ ratings, bbb complaints, and past news articles on the property. You will also want to research the owner’s or listing agent’s name and contact information

Limited communication with landlord or rental agent

There is no way to guarantee when speaking to a landlord or rental agent over the phone if they are a scam artist or not. But you should definitely avoid those persons who only want to communicate with you via email. Also be weary of those agents that use free email accounts (i.e. Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo). Also request a time to meet the landlord and see the property. If the agent or landlord appears to never have time or to be traveling, this may be a scam and this property should be removed from your search list.

Landord eagerness to rent you property

Most landords and rental agents want to know your credit history and other important information about you prior to renting you a property. Reputable properties most likely would want to also know your criminal history and verify your employment. If a landlord or rental agent doesn’t seem too interested in screening you or too eager to rent you the property, then this property should be deleted off of your search list.

If you pay attention to these signs, you won’t fall victim of scammers that prey on the emotions of travelers and movers.

Jessica Williams is Consolidated Credit’s Marketing Communications New Media Coordinator. As a member of the education team, Jessica focuses on helping consumers make better financial decisions while living debt-free. She has previously worked with Take Stock In Children, where she was a mentor and communications specialist, and, where she managed community relations, event planning, marketing, and public relations. Jessica attended both the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida where she received her B.S. in Interpersonal/Organizational Communications and Marketing. Connect with Jessica on Google+.