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BBB: Don't fall for online rental scams

Posted: 9:07 AM, Apr 24, 2017
Updated: 2017-04-24 15:07:51Z
The Better Business Bureau reminds Treasure Valley residents to not fall victim to rental scams on Craigslist. As you are looking for a home or apartment to rent, the ads online may look enticing but some are bogus and could end up costing you.
 
BBB's Emily Valla says in one of the more common scams, prospective tenants browse online listings and find one that looks perfect, it’s priced low with great amenities. The tenant responds to the ad, and the supposed landlord explains they live out of the area and won’t be able to show them the home in person. They ask the tenant to send an application and wire transfer for the deposit, and promise to send the key once they get their money.
 
"The tenant sends the money, but the key never arrives and the scammer stops responding. In reality, scammers have often copied and pasted pictures of homes that were for sale and faked the rental listing," Valla said.
 
According to Nerd Wallet , thousands of would-be renters got hit with another scheme that ended up costing them $30 per month. The Federal Trade Commission stepped in to stop it earlier this year.
 
"In this scheme, a fake post instructs a would-be tenant to purchase a credit report before they can see the property. Unknowingly, the renters were signed up for a credit monitoring service. The FTC filed a complaint against that company, but beware of similar requests. If you do want to look at your credit before you start house shopping, you have the right to do so annually, for free at www.AnnualCreditReport.com . Before entering personal information on any site, make sure you read and understand what you are agreeing to," Valla continued.
 
If you do use Craigslist to look for rentals, protect yourself from scams.
 
See the property in person: Don’t send money to someone you’ve never met for an apartment you haven’t seen. If you can’t visit an apartment or house yourself, ask someone you trust to go and confirm that it is what was advertised.
 
Don’t wire money or use a prepaid debit card: These payments are the same as sending cash. Once you send it, you have no way to get it back.
 
Search for the same ad in other cities: Search for the listing online. If you find the same ad listed in other cities, that’s a red flag.
 
For more information, visit www.bbb.org .