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Renters beware: Online rental scams may be moving to a city near you. What are some keys to avoid becoming a victim?
In one recent case, an Arizona resident fell victim to a classic online housing scam on the popular housing website Zillow. The victim found a house for rent on Zillow and inquired about it. The scammer told the victim he would hold the house for $800, and the victim sent the money. But after the scammer asked for more money, the victim grew suspicious and called police, Tucson's KOLD-TV reports.
Lest you fall prey to an online housing scam, follow these five safety tips:
And the No. 1 rule: Never give money up-front without meeting in-person first and inspecting the property.
Alas, the victim in the Arizona case committed a cardinal safety sin by paying before seeing the property and never meeting the "property manager" face-to-face.
Rental Housing Scam Red Flags
Although housing scams on Zillow and other websites are becoming a serious problem, there are almost always telltale signs of a scam.
Beware the following rental housing scam red flags:
If you've fallen victim to a housing scam, you may want to consult an experienced consumer protection attorney to figure out what legal options you have.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.