With rental properties in high demand right now and very few properties available, scammers are taking full advantage of those looking for a place to live.
Realtor Angie Whipkey with AltaTerra Realty & Auction LLC in Paris said scammers are using listings for sale and posting them as rentals charging people an application fee and asking for a deposit.
“I have heard of several incidents in our area but have only personally experienced it one time,” said Whipkey.
This month, Whipkey was made aware that scammers were using a property she had listed for sale.
“I got a call about a property asking if it was for sale or rent. I told them it was definitely for sale and that there was a scam going around,” she said. “The lady sent me messages between her and the scammer in which the scammer wanted her to get a Vanilla Card and put $550 on it for a deposit and application fee.”
A recent study by Better Business Bureau found that fraud is common in the online rental home market, with 43% of online shoppers encountering fake listings and more than 5 million consumers losing money to such scams.
Whipkey said the best advice she can give is to “just do your homework and don’t freely hand over your information or any amount of money, especially without seeing the property.”
“Check with your local real estate companies and ask around about the property and the person claiming to be renting the property out,” she said.
Additionally, potential renters can verify a realtor by going to the Texas Real Estate Commission website and enter their name to get their license and verification that they are, in fact, real estate agents.
“In regards to the property itself, always double-check and make sure it’s not listed on a site for sale. There are also a lot of local real estate companies that have agents that manage rentals, and I’m more than happy to help anyone who may have questions.”