Protecting yourself from housing, rental scams

Reporter: Rich Kolko
Published: Updated:

Season is in full swing in Southwest Florida and that means more rentals. Now, the Better Busines Bureau is warning about more complaints across the country involving rental scams.

Nearly 50% of people searching for a property have come across a suspicious listing, according to some reports. The BBB says more than 5 million have reported losses.

“It’s a real problem,” said BBB International Investigations Specialist Steve Baker. “Anyone looking for an apartment or house to rent needs to be careful and make sure they’re not being ripped off.”

He said complaints about rental scams jumped 49% in one year.

Here are a few quick ways to recognize a potential scam:

  • The price is too good
  • There are misspellings in the ad
  • They’re charging a fee to see the property
  • They ask for a deposit before you sign a lease

This doesn’t mean don’t rent, but be aware by understanding how the scam works.

  • Do an internet search of the owner and property
  • Check for the same ad in another area
  • Don’t pay before you sign a lease with an owner

Be sure to ignore high-pressure tactics and never wire money. And if you see a scam, report it to the FBI or police.


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