Surge in rental home scams | Better Business Bureau

Rental scams might be a common trick these days, but unfortunately, it is still common for house hunters to fall for it. Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest has noticed an uptick in this type of scam being reported to BBB Scam Tracker.

Since Scam Tracker launched in 2015 there have been about two dozen complaints made in the Northwest area concerning rental scams. And half of those occurred within the last six months.

Earlier this month a Wenatchee man reported someone trying to rent out his house without him knowing. He tells BBB he’s had several people show up ready to move in, despite the home not being for sale or rent.

Rental home scammers typically prey on victims who do not live in the area, in hopes of taking their cash before they realize the home is not available.

To avoid falling for these scams remember the following tips when hunting for a rental property:

  • Ask for a walk-through. If you are renting locally, ask to see the property in person. If you don’t live in the city, reach out to someone you trust who does and ask them to visit the place for you. If the property owner gives excuses for being unable to show the property, it’s most likely a scam.
  • Research the location. Search the listing online to see if it is being advertised elsewhere. Oftentimes scammers steal pictures and try to pass off properties as their own. That’s why walk-throughs are so important.
  • Pay with credit card. Never pay a security deposit or first month’s rent with a gift card or by wire transfer. These payment methods are the same as sending cash —once you send it, you have no way to get it back.
  • Be skeptical of low prices. Scammers lure in targets by promising low rents, great amenities and other perks. If the price seems much better than comparable homes, it may be a scam.

Anyone that has fallen victim to these or other scams is encouraged to report their experience to Better Business Bureau at 206-431-2222 or at bbb.org.