I recently posted an article dealing with duplicate scam ads I have come across while using many of the rental listing sites available on the web. A parallel issue can also plague you as you receive replies to these ads by email, text or even by phone. Bogus replies that are designed to trick you into acting on the correspondence, which in turn results in less than desirable outcomes, have been on the rise in recent years. Keeping a vigilant eye on correspondence and learning how to spot a potentially fraudulent reply will help prevent most mishaps.
There are a few common factors I have seen in most of these illegitimate responses to rental ads, keep an eye out for the following:
- An email regarding your ad and some type of verification or maintenance steps followed by a link to adjust or fix the issues. You should try to set up the ad account using an email other than the one you will use for the ad itself. Doing so will alert you that this email is bogus, as it is using the ad email not the account email.
- Broad generalizations exist in the correspondence. One example I recently came across read in part, ‘We need more information regarding your party and your current requirements’. If the ad reply makes little to no sense, delete.
- An overly complex reply which typically includes either a ‘hardship statement’ or a ‘lengthy story regarding some type of relocation or event’. Legitimate ad replies usually consist of no more than a few sentences and possibly a question or two about the specifics of the property. If the reply starts to read more like a ‘call to action’, then consider the possibility that it is a scam.
- Any type of counter offer to the proposed rental rates. One scenario used will read something like, ‘I am prepared to pay 6 months up front for immediate consideration for this rental unit…’. In most scam or spam emails there exists a sense of urgency, an act now mentality, which I regard as either too pushy or a false sense of urgency. The act now approach is designed to get the reader to rush into an action that they will soon regret.
Rental sites attempt to filter these scams and do a good job of it, but your being alert and reacting to these false rental inquiries is still a necessity. Above all if you suspect any foul play, take not of any information and links and report them to the moderator of the rental site. The sooner they are aware of new ways to cheat the system the sooner they can combat it.