Scam artists pose as potential renters everyday on many different "by owner" websites. Why? Because it works! Learn to spot common warning signs of many rental scams.
Everyday individuals approach property owners using the internet via email posing as renters in an attempt to swindle unsuspecting owners out of large sums of money. These scams will continue as long as they fool a small portion of property owners. The best defense against rental schemes is to be informed and remain alert. It is important to know that Cashier's Checks, Money Orders, Certified Checks, as well as Personal Checks can all be forged. Scammers are very sophisticated and even some banks are fooled by forged documents, until they try to collect the funds.
There are several WARNING SIGNS that indicate that a rental inquiry may be a scam. Note that a fraudulent rental lead may exhibit only one or possibly none of these warning signs during the first contact. You may have several back and forth communications before you receive a warning sign. Below you will find the most common warning signs of scams.
1. WARNING SIGN: The potential renter's check comes from an underdeveloped or third world country but some are coming from developed countries as well. It can take a bank up to 8 weeks to verify funds from a check coming from a remote bank or account. Normally, a bank can verify funds from a check in about 2 weeks when it is coming from a developed country. There have been several recent accounts of this scam coming from developed countries in Europe also. Take precautions with all rental leads and remain alert! SOLUTION: Let the potential renter know that their check must clear before they may rent your property.
2. WARNING SIGN: For whatever reason given, the potential renter wants to send you a check for a large sum of money in excess of the rent due. They may give one of the following reasons why they have this "suspiciously large" check to send: wedding gift, honeymoon, payment from a trust fund, bonus from their employer, or gift of another type. If you deposit this check they will ask you to wire the difference back to them immediately. You may be hounded and possibly threatened to return the excess funds. Keep in mind that a bad check may also be for the exact amount due. SOLUTION: Let the potential renter know that you will only accept a check for the exact amount of the rent due and that their check must clear before they may rent your property.
3. WARNING SIGN: The renter wants to rent your property in the very near future, giving your bank and you less time to verify the funds from their check. SOLUTION: Let the potential renter know that they must provide funds that clear the bank before they may rent your property.
4. WARNING SIGN: The renter would like to rent your property for an unusually long period of time compared to the average rental period of your other renters. The time of year requested may be an unusual time to rent a property in your area (not the normal season). This can be an indication that the individual is contacting many owners on a site indiscriminately. SOLUTION: Keep other warning signs in mind when replying to this individual.
5. WARNING SIGN: They may attempt to ease your suspicions by letting you know that they are a professional in their country?.Doctor, Scientist, etc. and might even provide you with an official sounding Company name to verify their employment. They may be offering TOO much information in hopes that you sympathize with them. SOLUTION: Let the potential renter know that they must provide funds that clear the bank before they may rent your property.
6. WARNING SIGN: The funds they want use, will be coming from someone or somewhere else: a boss, business partner, or relative. Sometimes the check comes directly from them. SOLUTION: Let the potential renter know that you will only accept a check for the amount of the rent and that their check must clear before they may rent your property.
7. WARNING SIGN: The renter would like to wire the money directly into your account. Don't ever give anyone personal information including bank account numbers or Social Security numbers unless you don't mind losing your identity! SOLUTION: Consult your bank and ask them for the best way to wire funds safely and economically.
8. WARNING SIGN: Their communication with you is poorly written, with several grammatical and spelling errors. In some cases it is difficult to figure out exactly what they are requesting. SOLUTION: Let the potential renter know that you will only accept a check for the exact amount of the rent due and that their check must clear before they may rent your property.
Owners experiencing one or more of these warning signs from a potential renter should proceed with caution. It is important to remember savvy scammers will make every effort to gain your trust. The warning sign(s) may arise after several contacts. We can help deter this criminal activity by sharing our knowledge with others. If we work together, these scams will not succeed.
Paradise Properties by Owner