Several local consumers in North Alabama have been caught up in rental scams. Consumers are reporting to the BBB that after responding to online listings they are offered a deal that is too good to be true.
BBB is hearing more and more about these hijacked listings. Scammers are going on local MLS sites, picking good looking properties, using the photos that are there and making up their own ad on sites such as Craigslist. One of the red flags is this is all done by emails. There is an excuse about why you can’t get a key to look inside; there is an excuse as to why you have to submit all the information requested before you can see inside; and there is an excuse as to why you have to wire transfer the money before you can get in the house.
BBB offers the following tips to avoid housing scams:
- If you become aware of an on-line scam, report it to the site host. Most site hosts have links on the home page at which fraudulent listings can be reported.
- NEVER wire funds via Western Union or any other wiring service or purchase Green Dot money cards for payment.
- Meet the homeowner in person at the property to tour the home together.
- NEVER give out personal information (bank account, social security number, credit card number, etc.) until you have seen the property in person.
- Be wary if the advertiser will only communicate by text message, or claims to be out of the country; these are both indicative of a scam.
- Lastly, remember if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.