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How to Avoid a Rental Scam – Credit Law Center

Trying to find a place to rent when you have less than stellar credit can leave you feeling hopeless. Finding a landlord that is willing to work with your situation may be a hefty task, but an important piece to this puzzle is knowing the red flags when it comes to rental scams. Scam artists are always looking for ways to prey on individuals, and rental scams are on the rise.

Craigslist and other online community sites are an easy way for these slimy scammers to prey on desperate individuals looking for a place to move. In doing my research I was disgusted at the numerous ways the rip off artists used to target individuals. Below I have listed a few of the ways they will target.

Common ways Scammers are Targeting Renters

Stealing an Existing Rental Ad

Some scammers will copy and steal images and location of a current rental home that is listed one another site. They will then post it on another site, with the same images, but change the price and phone number. They are slick and like to post a higher deposit, but a lower monthly amount. Scammers are looking for the fastest and less recognizable way to obtain the largest amount of money before you catch on to their scam. Occasionally, these scammers will hijack the listing agent’s email address.

Missing Landlord

These scammers look for vacant, bank owned homes and may even use their own home to show possible renters. They will take them to the vacant homes tell them the landlord is currently out of the country or sick, they will then request a deposit to hold the property and skip out. They will then take the down payment and never contact them again. Scammers often use their own house if they want to pull the scam more than once.


Red Flags

1. If they ask you to wire money. It is never a good reason to wire money, even if you already signed a contract.
2. If the landlord or agent asks for the first month’s rent and deposit before you have ever seen the property in person or signed an agreement.
3.They tell you the owner is out of the country and they are representing them.
4. Requesting you to fill out an application before you have ever seen the property.
5. If the price is too good to be true.
6.Sloppy ads misspelled words and not having pictures.


1. Do not rent sight unseen.
2. Meet the landlord in person.
3. Speak with current tenants, if possible.
4.Look up the current deed of trust in County records.
5. You may want to consider using a licensed agent or a reputable leasing company.
6. Do the basic research, google search the phone number and email address. Lots of times people use the internet to notify others of these individuals.

What to do if this happens to you

If you find yourself interacting with an individual who is trying to scam you, it is important that you report them to the local authorities and you may also report to the local utility company, so they can notify the proper owner of the circumstances. You may also want to report to the FTC.

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