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Red Flag Behaviors
Over-encouraging: They’ll tell you that it’s alright if your credit is terrible. They’ll try to alleviate your concerns, even if you’re unsure. They prey on people who are having trouble finding a rental for ‘X’ reason, and they eliminate ‘X’ from the equation to encourage them.
Overeager: If the landlord is trying their best to push the transaction forward, that’s a red flag. If they’re overly encouraging, or if they’re pushing you to make a decision, you should be wary of them.
Poorly-written listing: If a post has a ton of errors or is hard to read, that's a red flag. A few errors in the listing's description is nothing to worry about, but if the post is practically unintelligible, you should put your guard up.
Sensitive documents: The only thing a landlord can ask you for before showing you a rental property is a photo ID. If they ask you for you social security number or a payment, that’s a red flag.
Money via wire: If the property owner is asking you to send money via Western Union, Venmo or other direct payment apps or another similar service, there’s a good chance it’s a scam. It’s a good rule of thumb to not send money to anyone you don’t know.
Odd email addresses: Many scammers use software to generate email addresses at random, so that they can keep their scams going after one of their emails has been flagged. If you’re emailing with a landlord whose email address seems like a random mash of numbers, it’s probably not legitimate.
No physical address: If you don’t get an address from the listing or the property owner, don’t bother. This is an obvious red flag, but scammers will sometimes make up excuses as to why they can’t give the building number or other parts of the address.
Can’t meet in-person: Scammers are very unlikely to set up personal meetings, and since that’s a fairly common part of real estate transactions, they’ll make up an excuse for why they can’t meet you. Usually they’ll be out of the country for one reason or another. Even if you can’t meet the property owner because of your situation, confirm that they’d be willing to meet you.
- Using a well-known search site doesn’t guarantee that the listing is legitimate.
- Generally, you should never put money down on a home or apartment if you haven’t seen it in person, especially if you’re using user-regulated sites like Craigslist.
- Don't rent from anyone you don't trust.
- Scammers will often do what they can to maximize their profit. If the security deposit seems high, or they’re asking for more than two months of rent, they might be trying to grab as much cash as they can and run.
- If you can’t meet in person, arrange a video chat with the landlord. Have them walk around the apartment and show you things. This will show you that they at least have access to the property.
- Ask for more pictures than the ones that are listed.