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Duck the Scams: Avoiding Rental Fraud and Manipulation

One of life's rules is that if something looks too good to be true, it is. In the age of the internet, scams abound. Rental listings are one of the areas in which the numerous forms of criminal attempts to mislead consumers can have devastating effects. Victims sign up for a potential rental and find themselves having paid down on an agreement which leads to nothing and they're left out in the cold. What follows is a list some of the most common, and a couple of the most devious, deceptions in the rental market.

Downpayment Debtors

The first and foremost of these attempts at larcenous trickery is one of the most common and most problematic; the request for downpayment on unregulated websites. Sites like craigslist allow sellers with dubious reputations and intentions to advertise their wares. Many of these show up in the form of unbelievably good rental agreement prices. These advertisements frequently appear to be legitimate. They list amenities, prices, contractual obligations, logistics, and even include pictures. Many of these advertisements even include pictures of beautiful properties that look very desirable for rental. What's come to light recently is that at times both foreign and domestic criminals post listings with tantalizing characteristics requesting a small down payment just because two wealthier homeowners are looking for someone to watch their house while they're out of town?and so the story goes. The downpayment, frequently, is the first in a long line of "small" payments which will ultimately lead to a potential renter losing hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on where they're renting and the market in that area, and getting nothing in return. One of the most egregious examples of this type of scheme is seen here. This scam is seen frequently on sites listing classifieds and the like so watch out for it.

Home Invaders

The housing market is tough, especially in the wake of the housing debt crisis. Many grifters are aware of this situation. They break into abandoned houses and, in shows of boldness and bravado, manage to change the locks so that they look like legitimate renters or homeowners. These tricksters request cash for rent and portray themselves, at times, as authorized to do business on behalf of the renter. While tracking empty houses, these criminals begin advertising on a variety of sites, ones much like craigslist, and frequently have many of the necessary pieces to prove to their victims that they are who they claim to be including, frankly, keys to the house. Many of these scams involved homes which are foreclosed upon or the like. Keep this in mind when thinking about renting and, when avoidable, never deal in cash, especially if you have an inkling about a renter.

The rental market is rough all over. Use these two examples of scams to avoid running into a situation which leave you out of money and out of luck when looking for a place to live. If you're looking to buy a house but don't have enough startup capital click here but if you're purely renting use these tips to protect yourself and your family.

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