Business

Looking to rent a home in the Treasure Valley? Keep an eye out for scams

This Boise house is not actually for rent. The Craigslist listing in this redacted screenshot was a scam.
This Boise house is not actually for rent. The Craigslist listing in this redacted screenshot was a scam.

Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific is issuing an alert about scammers posting fake Boise rental homes in an attempt to get their hands on renters’ personal information and even their deposit.

I received an email this week from a gentleman hunting for a rental home. He was so disgusted to come across so many fake rental properties that he wanted to share his experience with BBB.

The customer came across the fake rental postings through an online classified website. He became suspicious after he engaged with the alleged landlord through email and received messages full of grammatical errors. They even sent him a questionnaire requesting personal information such as his name, home address, phone number and marital status.

The customer decided to do his research and soon discovered that the house he was inquiring about was owned by someone else. Fortunately, he was able to spot the scam before handing over any information or money, but that’s not always the case.

Many of the photos used in fake listings were stolen from home-selling websites. That can make it difficult to tell the difference between fake and authentic listings.

Rental scams are common, especially in Boise, where in the influx of transplants has jumped. Fortunately, there are some precautions you can take to avoid falling for a rental scam.

Your BBB offers the following tips to stay ahead of scammers:

Watch out for deals that are too good. Scammers lure you in by promising low rents, extra amenities, great locations and other perks. If the price seems much better than offered elsewhere, it may be a scam. Search online for the listings, or the scammer’s email address or phone number. If you find the same ad listed in other cities, that’s a huge red flag.

If possible, see the property in person. Don’t send money to someone you’ve never met for an apartment you haven’t seen. If you can’t visit an apartment or house yourself, ask someone you trust to go and confirm that it is what was advertised. And don’t fall for the overseas landlord story: Scammers often claim to be out of the country and instruct targets to send money overseas.

Never wire money. Pay with a credit card just in case you need to dispute the charges.

Consider hiring professional help. Did you know that some real estate agents may offer their services to renters? This can be a great way to streamline the process of researching properties and setting up appointments with the landlord if you have a busy schedule. Keep in mind that not all real estate agents are Realtors. Although both are licensed to practice real estate, Realtors are also registered with the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Learn more about Realtors at http://www.realtor.org/.

Veronica Craker, veronica.craker@ thebbb.org, is the content and communications director for Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific. To check a business or report a scam, go to bbb.org or call 208-342-4649. To learn more about rental scams visit bbb.org/rentalscam.

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