Be careful out there folks. Rental websites like ours have been fighting off rental scammers for years. Historically, they have listed their fraudulent houses for rent on free sites like Craig’s List, and unfortunately, even some like ours. However, today, they have somehow tapped into a stolen credit card source (sorry, we don’t have any idea which one) and are using those cards to pepper the housing rental websites with premium paid for ads. They are getting their ads placed all over the web without regard for cost. Why not? It’s not costing them anything.
What does a Scammer do?
They take a legitimate rental house ad from any place they find it, make a bogus copy with their email address on it and put an incredibly low price for the rent. When you email them, you get a story about how they are away (typically out of the country) and, gee I’m sorry, I have the keys with me. They offer to send you the keys for a small deposit. Just a hundred dollars or so.
How can you protect yourself?
- Never give anyone money if you have not toured a house you are interested in. A legitimate landlord will want you to tour the inside of the house and will arrange to get you inside. If they can’t they most likely don’t really have the keys.
- Never deal with anyone with an out of country phone number. They feel safe. Who are you going to complain to that will go find them?
Can’t the house for rent websites do something?
We are working on it. Unfortunately, it’s not easy. We can’t verify ownership of a property, those tools just aren’t available today.
Many of us are implementing phone confirmation systems. We are verifying that people advertising properties on our sites have a phone number that we can confirm by calling it and having them provide a response. HouseHitz is working to not only confirm phone numbers of advertisers, but we are going to limit the phone numbers we accept to US phone numbers.
Please be careful out there. Protect yourself. If it looks too good to be true and they want money, look somewhere else.