Rental property scams are often found on local buy, sell, trade websites such as Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and Facebook groups. With the heightened market and lack of rental property, it’s important to be extremely cautious about who you do business with.
When engaging in a rental transaction, or real-estate purchase transaction through an online classified, consumers should fully vet the person they are going to meet and not deal in cash.
Do not render payment to third persons and do not accept at face value that the person offering a lease agreement is entitled to represent the rental property.
Signs of a Scam
Being savvy when you’re in search of a rental is well worth the effort. Here are some signs you may be dealing with a scam:
They tell you to wire money
They want a security deposit or first month’s rent before you’ve met or signed a lease
They say they’re out of the country
Follow the guidelines below to avoid falling for any scam:
Deal locally and face-to-face
Do not provide payment to anyone you have not met in person
Beware of offers involving shipping – deal with locals you can meet in person
Never wire funds (e.g. Western Union) – anyone who asks you to is a scammer
Don’t accept cashier/certified checks or money orders – banks cash fakes, then hold you responsible.
Transactions are between users only, no third party provides a “guarantee”
Never give out financial info (bank account, social security, PayPal account, etc)
Do not rent or purchase sight-unseen—that amazing “deal” may not exist
Refuse background/credit checks until you have met the landlord/employer in person
“Craigslist voicemails” – Any message asking you to access or check “Craigslist voicemails” or “Craigslist voice messages” is fraudulent – no such service exists
How to Report Scams
If you find yourself the target of a rental scam, report it to your local law enforcement agency and to the FTC at