As more homes hit the market, more rental scams hit CraigsList and other free classified sites, asking for deposits and fees before a potential tenant has seen a contract, or the property for that matter. Scammers are finding plenty of material on home searching sites that they then hijack for their own purposes, which makes this a truly difficult situation for both renters and Realtors.
We asked veteran Realtor, broker and founder of LocalDwelling.com, Colin Lardner, if he had any tips or tricks to help avoid scammers who might poach a listing or photos to bilk an unwitting renter.
“Keep a close tab on the syndicate sites (Trulia, Zillow, etc.) and inform them immediately when you see something wrong,” Lardner offered. “We have also contacted the FBI when we see a poached listing.”
On the flipside, Lardner says that it’s unlikely a scammer will poach listing information from Craigslist. “We have found that higher quality prospects come from other sources,” Lardner said. Still, tenants should watch out for fake listings as “Craigslist seems to get a fair amount of abuse from scam artists.”
But how do homeowners protect themselves from scammers spreading photos and information on their homes all over the Internet? Well, they don’t have too much to worry about, Lardner said, as prospective renters are more often victims of fraud than sellers or homeowners.
“Scammers are putting themselves out there as the owner and taking rent and deposit money from the prospect,” Lardner said, adding that LocalDwelling.com vets all owners and tenants rigorously, filtering through most scam artists and cons.
So, how do Realtors protect themselves from scams? By using MLS, Lardner said.
“MLS is hard to scam. If Realtors are searching for listings there they should be protected from the type of scams we see from people posing as owners,” Lardner said. “We are always available to the Realtor community to facilitate any property management and leasing issues.”
Have other questions about buying, selling, and leasing? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.