I deal with fishing and spam emails and comments a lot in my blog and am finding increasing evidence of this practice when listing my rental units online. After you place a well written ad for a rental unit you can typically ‘set it and forget it’, but there are some indicators that should clue you in on possible scams that are using your site for illegitimate reasons. Here are some indicators that something might be going on with your rental listing:
- Persons answering your ad indicate that they have corresponded with you regarding the listing but you have not. If you are getting a lot of traffic you may think you did write these people but you somehow forgot the exchange. Since I keep all correspondence in a pending folder, its easy to verify any contacts. If it becomes evident that you did not contact them then it is likely that someone duplicating your listing has. Notify the listing site to correct any duplicate listings.
- You were getting a good amount of inquiries to a listing and all of a sudden it sharply declines. If potential renters see duplicate listings they tend to assume something ‘fishy’ is going on and avoid contact altogether. To verify, scan the listing site and look for duplicate listings and take immediate action if needed.
- When corresponding or talking with renters they insist information they read differs from what you are currently stating. In one case the rental listing price was far lower than the listing price I had placed in the ad. Verify and report any false listings to the listing site.
- Your listing is suddenly being rejected by the listing site, possibly when you attempt to perform an update on information for the listing. This is a clear sign that something is not right and you should investigate the cause of the issue with the listing site.
The aim of the scam could be to limit competition for other rentals in the area or to extract money from potential renters by using your site as a ‘front add’. Whatever the reasons, the bogus sites can kill your chances of finding a suitable tenant and should not be taken lightly. Acting immediately by researching and contacting the listing site will insure minimal damage to your listing, and help protect those who are searching the listing site for a legitimate rental opportunity.
On a personal note I consider myself to be tech savvy and vigilant to these types of threats. It is becoming an ever-increasing challenge to combat these scams. If you sense anything ‘fishy’ when listing on a rental site, don’t dismiss it and act on your gut feeling!