The internet is a great tool for connecting potential renters to their perfect home. Unfortunately, there are dishonest people who take information from legitimate rental listings and use it to defraud unsuspecting consumers.
FirstKey Homes wants to protect consumers and educate them about this issue. Here are six important tips to help you spot rental scams and steer clear of them.
How do rental scams work?
Rental scammers take information from legitimate listings and post fake ads to attract potential renters. They use a variety of means to gain access to rental properties and may pose as owners or leasing agents for these properties. The victim of a rental scam often doesn’t know that they have been tricked until after they have paid to lease the property.
Six tips to avoid rental scams
1. Know the red flags.
FirstKey Homes does NOT list our homes on Craigslist, though other companies may. In addition, we process all applications and leases online. If you see a FirstKey Homes listing on Craigslist, or if someone asks you to complete paper documents, these are red flags. Walk away and call the number on our website to report potential fraud.
2. Compare prices.
Scammers often target eager home renters by pricing their listings far below similar properties. If you see a deal that seems too good to be true, be cautious. It may be a scam.
3. Double check.
If you see a FirstKey Homes listing on a third-party site such as Zillow or Trulia, check to make sure it is also listed at firstkeyhomes.com. You should also check our website for official office addresses before mailing money orders or checks to anyone.
4. Avoid unusual payment methods.
Never wire money or use gift cards to pay application fees, rental deposits or rent. FirstKey Homes never asks renters to pay through these methods. In fact, the only forms of payment we accept for the initial deposit and rent payment on a home are certified funds, such as certified checks, cashier’s checks, or money orders.
5. Contact us.
may steal watermarked photos or names of our employees from legitimate listings
to make their fake listings look real. Check the spelling of email addresses to
make sure they come from firstkeyhomes.com and not from Gmail, Yahoo or other email
services. You can also call us at
1-844-395-3959 and ask a representative to connect you to your local FirstKey Homes office.
6. Help protect others. Never share the code you use to tour a home. Scammers may use this information to try to trick others.
What to do if you have been scammed
If you see a rental scam or have been the victim of a scam, report it to your local law enforcement and to the Federal Trade Commission immediately.
Rental listing scams are an unfortunate issue impacting today’s renters; but following these tips will help you stay safe.
You can find additional information about rental scams and how to protect yourself on the Federal Trade Commission website.