When looking for a new apartment, it’s important to be aware of rental scams. Unfortunately, many scammers target seniors specifically because they may be more trusting or less familiar with the internet and modern technology.
How Apartment Rental Scams Work
According to AARP, apartment rental scams typically follow a similar pattern:
The scammer finds a rental listing online, usually on a reputable website like Craigslist or Zillow. They then create a fake listing with similar or identical information, often using stolen photos.
Next, the scammer contacts potential victims, usually by email or text message. They may pose as the owner, manager, or leasing agent for the apartment and often claim to be out of town or unable to meet in person.
The scammer will try to get the victim to wire money for the deposit or first month’s rent, often using a fake identity or a fake website. They may also ask for personal information like a Social Security number or bank account number.
Once they have the victim’s money, the scammer disappears and is very difficult to track down.
What to Look For
There are a few red flags that can help you spot a rental scam:
- The listing price is significantly lower than similar listings in the same area.
- The person you’re dealing with is reluctant to meet in person or show you the apartment.
- You’re asked to wire money or pay with a gift card.
- You’re asked for personal information like your Social Security number before you’ve even signed a lease.