Landlords, Make sure your properties for rent are not something that scammers desire

image of craigs list - imploring people to be careful of scammersRental property is a great way to earn a  return on your money and/or save for your retirement.  We work with lots of people who realize that owning a rental property or two can be a great investment.

When we help someone purchase a rental property, we also are able to give them lots of tools and advice.  Some of the advice we give refers to effectively marketing the property to find new tenants.  Ironically though,  effective marketing of a rental property can set it up to be used by scammers on Craig’s list.

It is a great idea to show pictures of the inside of your rental when advertising for new tenants.  Apparently however, scammers are finding that ads with  great pictures allow them to run a scam on prospective tenants.  Here is how the scam seems to work.

Scammers  grab the real owners’ information about the house and the outside and inside pictures that the real owner has uploaded and then they post THEIR OWN ad using some of the real information and pictures of the house.  The scammers make the price of the rent amazingly low so that it attracts lots of attention.  When an unsuspecting tenant emails them, they reply back and start the telling of lies…  They may say that they are out of town somewhere and cannot meet them in person.  They may tell you that they will send more interior pictures.  They may send an application which needs to be filled out.  They may suggest you send the deposit for the property and then they will forward the key.  They may make false guarantees. Etc.  Once they have the personal identifying information of these unsuspecting prospective tenants who knows what they will do with it.

The landlord’s information is not compromised, but, the landlords we work with, want to make sure that prospective tenants are not victims either.

So….here is a way that we believe will combat the scammers!  Make sure that you do not post pictures of the property unless the price is embedded on the photo.  Create a video to show the inside pictures and the price and info about the house.  In this way, the scammers will not be interested in running a scam using the property because they will not have pictures to show to run their scam.  In this way, the landlord can still benefit from the prospects that look on Craig’s list.

I have heard there are similar scams running with cars for sale.  Be on your guard.  The Craig’s list service is a good tool, but you need to be WISE when you use it!

So landlords, check the picture below to see what we suggest that photos of houses for rent look like:
Landlords, here is a sample video to show off the inside.

1718 Fulton for rent with rent price in the ad
Placing the price and phone number on the photo will discourage spammers.

Avoiding scams and fraud

Here are some tips on avoiding scams:

  • Be wary of any prices that seem too low to be believable!
  • If you are suspicious,  look up the tax records for a property and see if the name of the owner matches the name of the person corresponding with you.  If it does not match and the prices are low…RUN the other way and don’t give more information
  • It’s best to deal locally with people you can meet in person.
  • Never wire funds via Western Union, Moneygram or any other wire service — anyone who asks you to do so is a scammer.
  • Fake cashier checks and money orders are common, and banks will cash them and then hold you responsible when the fake is discovered weeks later.
  • Never give out identifying or  financial information (drivers license number, bank account number, social security number, eBay/ PayPal info, etc.) Seriously don’t do it, but if you have to send money from paypal to western union and don’t give out any info until you have what you expect.
  • Avoid deals involving shipping or escrow services. Only a scammer will “guarantee” your transaction.

If you are a victim of a scam, here are some agencies you can notify about fraud or scam attempts:

  • FTC toll-free hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)
  • FTConline complaint form, www.ftc.gov
  • Internet Fraud Complaint Center, www.ic3.gov

If you are interested in purchasing or selling a rental property,  give us a call.  We have experience helping people buy, sell and manage rental properties and we would love to help you.