Avoiding Scams and Fraud
Rentals.com has seen an increase in fraudulent credit card transactions. Rentals.com is presently taking additional steps to ensure your private credit card information is secure and private. You may notice that we now require additional steps when entering your credit card information. This is to ensure the authorized person on the credit card is placing the advertisement(s).
While the majority of listings on Rentals.com are legitimate, please be aware that certain individuals post property rental listings on Rentals.com to scam potential renters. The following information provides tips on recognizing scams.
Tips for Renters
- Research online. You should research and compare rental property content against other sites. Put the property address into a search engine and see what comes up. Do the contact numbers and email addresses match? If you're local, drive by the house and compare the phone number on the sign to the number on the site. You can also verify who owns a property by going to that county's website, looking under the assessor's page and typing in the address. It should pull up the name of the legal homeowner.
- If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If the rent seems too low for the area, it could be a red flag that the price is fake.
- Think before you send any personal information to a third party. Do not send any information unless you or someone you trust has seen the rental home in person and met the owner, landlord or property manager. Ask to see the landlord's driver's license when meeting him or her. This eliminates 99% of scams.
- Deal locally and in person. Be smart about meeting in person as well. Meet in a public place during the day, and bring someone with you.
- Never put a deposit down on a property if you or someone you trust has not seen it. Do not send any money without first viewing the rental property and meeting the landlord in person with a friend or relative. Never wire money via Western Union, MoneyGram or any other wire service.
- Communicate via email -- not instant messenger -- and send emails confirming conversations via phone. Email trails provide proof to authorities if you need it.
Tips for Landlords and Property Managers
- Keep an eye on free listing sites. After you place an ad in the local paper, advertise online or post information on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), monitor other websites to see if your ad is posted again. Continue to search online to see if your property is being advertised by someone other than yourself.
- Sign-up for free alerts. You can get free Google Alerts, which will email you every time your property address is placed on another site.
- Meet potential renters in person. Always meet potential tenants face-to-face whenever possible and ask to see their driver's license.
- Do not accept money orders or cashier's checks in a sum greater than what you asked for. Someone may overpay you in the form of a cashier's check, then ask for the difference back. Fake cashier's checks and money orders are common scams. Banks will cash them and then hold you responsible when the fake is discovered.
Information about "Check Overpayment" Scams
The following is an article from the FTC regarding cashier's check overpayment:
Information about Fraudulent Cashier's Checks
Fraudulent cashier's checks are not limited to foreign country scams; they're used in a variety of transactions. Victims of a cashier's check scam should contact the nearest law enforcement agency. Victims of the Nigerian cashier's check scam should also phone their local Secret Service Field Office.
Dealing with Cashier's Checks
- Never accept a cashier's check for an amount greater than what you requested.
- When you receive a cashier's check, immediately call the bank that issued it. Get the bank's number from its official website; do not rely on the phone number the buyer gives you.
- Verify all the information. When you call the bank, verify the check number, the name of the person to whom the check was issued, and the amount of the check. Be sure to wait until you can verify the authenticity of the check prior to taking any further steps. Sometimes scammers wait until the weekend or a holiday when banks are closed to give you a check, so the check cannot be verified right away.
Other Courses of Action
The United States Secret Service is the primary U.S. law enforcement agency dealing with Advance Fee Fraud (419) matters. U.S. citizens or residents with no financial loss may email 419 documents to the United States Secret Service at firstname.lastname@example.org, where they are archived for future data mining. Only No Loss reports should be sent to this email address. Due to the volume of materials received, USSS does not respond to submissions to this address.
United States citizens and residents who have suffered a financial loss should contact the nearest Field Office of the United States Secret Service (USSS) by telephone. You may also file a Financial Loss complaint online with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). This organization is a partnership of the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Rentals.com remains dedicated to protecting your personal and credit card information. If you have questions or concerns, please email us at Privacy@Rentpath.com or call our Customer Service Center at 1-888-501-7368.