Rental fraud should be on your radar
Wednesday, October 02, 2013 10:00 PM
Rental fraud is a growing issue nationwide and even right here in central Indiana. MIBOR has reported more than 40 incidents reported to the FBI this year. Without being educated on the issue, it's easy for Hoosiers to fall prey to this online scam.
It starts with the search for an apartment or rental home through online classified ads. Scammers lift listing information and photographs from websites where listings are advertised and create fraudulent "for rent" ads.
The ads are then placed on any number of sites including Craigslist, Zillow, Postlets and HotPads. Scammers pretending to be owners of the property request the completion of an application containing confidential information or a deposit. Many scammers commit this crime outside of the United States and request wire transfers, which can't be traced once received. When interested parties comply by sending a completed application or wire a deposit without first seeing the property or meeting with the owner, they become victims - often times not knowing it until move-in day.
Victims are often left without a hefty deposit and somewhere to live, and by completing an application with confidential information, they're prone to identify theft.
When searching for a rental property online, it's important for renters to contact the agent who is signed on the property to find out if it truly is for rent. Renters should also research the average rental rates for apartments and rental homes in their area; if a price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Renters should be suspicious if they are asked to only use a wire service to submit a deposit. Renters should not give out personal information like their social security number, bank account or credit card numbers.
Rental seekers should use www.MIBOR.com or MIBOR Mobile as they are central Indiana's trusted source for accurate listing information.
Working with a local REALTOR® is one of the best ways to avoid becoming the victim of a rental scam. They have access to the most up-to-date listings and are committed to upholding the REALTOR® code of ethics. Let a local REALTOR® help you avoid a rental scam and guide you to the perfect housing option.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of a scam, please report it to the police and FBI.
For more information on rental fraud, visit http://www.mibor.com/members/rental_fraud.asp.
Richard P. Lux
Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of REALTORS®