Have you ever fallen for a scam or been tricked by someone you thought was trustworthy? Other than making you feel like a fool and often taking your hard earned money, scammers are known to bamboozle even the smartest of us. Some of the worst scams to date have cost people thousands! One of the most popular cons is hitting the real estate rental industry and Las Vegas property managers like a ton of bricks. Rip-off artists know that many people are losing their homes and desperately seeking rental homes and as a result, are preying on the uninformed. Here are five red flag rental scams to watch out for and ways you can protect yourself and your money!
1.) Too Good To Be True Rent Price
According to the National Low Income Housing coalition, more than 36 million households in the U.S. currently rent. That makes finding potential “scam bait” easy because scammers can often hook them with too good to be true pricing. If you've located a rental via a supposedly legit Las Vegas property management company that is hundreds of dollars less than any other property you've found in the area, do your research! Always check out the average rental rates for properties within that area to make sure you're not being duped.
2.) Strange Grammar
Granted, we may not all be spelling and grammar all-stars, but if you're working with a landlord or Las Vegas property manager online keep a sharp eye on their grammar. Poorly written messages with misspellings, broken English, bad grammar, and politeness overload are HUGE red flags that the person on the other end is trying to take your cash. Emails that start with “Sir/Madam” or do not directly answer your reply questions are also key signs to watch for.
3.) Unavailable via Phone
In this age of texting and smart phones, pretty much everyone and their mother can be reached by phone. So another red flag to watch out for is a landlord or Las Vegas property manager that is mysteriously difficult to reach by phone. If they refuse to communicate outside of email, won't provide a phone number, or give you a number with a generic message without so much as a return phone call, just walk away. Fast! Also, if the entire application process is requested to be completed online only, be leery. Swindlers can get tons of info from fraudulent rental applications like your social security number, bank account number, and other sensitive information, allowing them to commit identity fraud even if they don't get your “rent money”.
4.) Not Dealing Locally
The odds of a Las Vegas property manager or landlord being out of the country while trying to get their property leased is very, very slim. So slim in fact that it's the next scheme to look out for. Often when a potential renter wants to view the rental property the landlord will claim to be out of the country and unable to show the house. Anyone promising keys and a move in date sight unseen definitely should not be trusted.
5.) Wire Woes
Did you know that money wire transfers can't be traced once they're picked up on the other end? This is why request money transfers are crooks number one choice of stealing your money! Money orders allow scammers to pick up funds anywhere in the world and all they need is a receipt. Beware of false Las Vegas property management companies asking you to wire money or send money overseas. They may claim you're paying a deposit or first and last month's rent, but all you're really doing is lining their pockets. And in coordination with dealing with local landlords, if you're being pressured to send money without even having seen the property first, you better hit the road!
Scammers are just criminals preying on the innocent, so the best thing you can do is to arm yourself with knowledge and trust your intuition. If a rental property price seems too good to be true. If you can't reach the mysteriously out of the country landlord or Las Vegas property manager. If their email correspondence seems generic and poorly written. Or if you're being pressured to wire money for a property sight unseen. You should immediately end all communication and report offenders to the Better Business Bureau and sites like rentalscams.org, usa.gov, and scambusters.org. Good luck and happy renting!