With real estate being a booming business right now, scammers have honed in on how to make big bucks off unsuspecting customers. Here are a few scams to look out for as you are trying to rent or to buy:
– Scammers will steal home advertisements – mainly rentals – and then advertise it for just a little cheaper: great deals but at believable prices. People start wanting to rent the house sight unseen. Eventually the scammers will want the people to wire them money for a deposit and then they’ll take off. Look out for the feeling of this is too good to be true and be skeptical of great deals like “rent free for the first month” or “we pay utilities”.
– Scammers may list something that is too good to be true, but when you call to ask about it, they’ll say it’s no longer available and they’d like to show you something similar. They’ll collect your information and then waste your time showing you properties you have no interest in. While you may not lose any money on this one, you may lose valuable time and energy!
– Scammers may offer to show you a house. They then skip out at the last minute, telling you they’ll get you a better deal than dealing directly with the owners so to go see the house, and call them afterwards. Then the “realtor” asks you to wire them money upfront to secure the listing. Unfortunately, they were never involved to begin with.
– Sometimes, con artists will find out about vacant homes where the owners are away for an extended period of time or are empty for other reasons. They’ll break in and change the locks on these properties before posting the homes for rent or for sale. After getting you to sign forged and unofficial documents, they’ll collect money until the original owners return, surprised to find people living in their home!
– Scammers will also try to impersonate a real estate agent or owner and attempt to sell a home that is in foreclosure proceedings. They’ll list the home for below its value to increase interest then forge documents, take deposits from multiple parties, and vanish with everyone’s money before anyone realizes they’ve been duped. Even worse, these con artists will often use personal information from application documents to steal your identity and continue causing credit problems for you.
Bottom line: if a real estate transaction ever feels too good to be true, do your research first!