FBI: Tell us about rental scams
A few months back, I warned you to be on the lookout for rental scams. Now the FBI, concerned about the problem, is asking people to report potential or definite rental scamming to its Internet Crime Complaint Center.
You can’t believe your good fortune—you find a rental home in a nice area through a Craigslist classified ad at an unbelievably low rate. The landlord—who had to leave the country and travel to Nigeria—asks that you wire him two months’ worth of rent. You arrive at the home on the agreed-upon date, but there’s just one small problem—the house is not actually for rent and its owners know nothing about your agreement.
Or the home is for rent, except not by the "landlord" who has your money.
Scammers are going after landlords, too. Wonk reader Lisa says she's had lots of scam replies to her rental ads: "Most typically, the scammers are in a huge rush to move, want to send a deposit immediately and so request your bank info."
The FBI offers these suggestions to avoid falling victim:
Only deal with landlords or renters who are local;
Be suspicious if you’re asked to only use a wire transfer service;
Beware of e-mail correspondence from the “landlord” that’s written in poor or broken English;
Research the average rental rates in that area and be suspicious if the rate is significantly lower;
Don’t give out personal information, like social security, bank account, or credit card numbers.
You know the drill: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.