Finding a new apartment, whether it be around the corner or across the country, is stressful enough. But more and more today, apartment hunters are finding themselves having to sidestep the apartment scams set up to separate the gullible from their money. Apartment hunting is an adventure especially if you’re moving to another state. In addition, there are other issues like size, location, move-in date, monthly rent, as well as extras like parking and utility bills. All of these things will factor into your final decision.
Even if you’ve done it before and most of us at a certain age have, there are some things you need to do to keep from being taken in by a rental scam. There are as many scams out there as con men who create them. One common scam is to take a real rental listing, change the contact information, including the phone number and or email address, and taking the now doctored listing and placing it on another site. Bear in mind, the scammer probably will not change the name of the person who listed the real advertisment. They will just simply use that name to lend credibility to scheme.
Other con men make up listings for places that either are not for rent or don’t exist. Their goal is to lure you with an extremely low rent and hope you give them your money before you discover the con. As with all things in this world, if sounds too good to be true, it usually is. In other words, an extremely low rent quote for an apartment that obviously should rent for a couple of thousand per month, is a scam and you should run quickly in the other direction.Here are a few things to be aware of when trying to find that next apartment. Don’t ever wire money upfront. There is never a good reason to wire money in order to pay a security deposit, application fee, or first month’s rent. You may as well have sent cash, because that what a money transfer is-cash in their pocket out of your bank account. Once they get your money. It’s gone.
Beware of anyone asking for a security deposit and or first month’s rent before you’ve met them in person or signed a lease. Never, ever give someone money for a place you’ve never seen. If you can’t visit the apartment personally, then you need to send a trusted friend to look at it before you give up any cash. Ask your friend to confirm that the rental is real and not fake. Set up a meeting and do a search on the landlord and the listing to determine their validity. If you find the same ad listed under a different name and contact information, then chances are you’ve run into a scam.
Steer clear of anyone who says they can’t meet you because they are out of the country, on vacation, taking a trip to the moon, but have a plan to get you the keys. The person designated to “get you the keys” is more than likely in on the scam. Sometimes even the keys are phoney. Don’t send money overseas. If you can’t meet the person offering the place for rent, then move on the next. Finally, try to stay away from bulletin board websites. This definitely buyer beware territory. Don’t ever give up any information to these sites because it’s probably an identity theft ploy to get you info as well as cash. If you find that you have been taken in by a scam contact the local police.