There are hundreds of different types of scams that will steal vital personal information from both tenants and landlords. Not being aware or prepared for the potential of identity theft and fraud can lead to costly and generally avoidable mistakes.”
Waltham, MA (PRWEB) March 29, 2013
Scams against potential property renters are becoming commonplace and, thanks to the Internet, easier to implement and easier to fall prey. Much like the Nigerian email scams which target individuals with hijacked email accounts making wild claims of easy money, rentals scams utilize the Internet and posting sites such as Craigslist.
Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com has been following recent news headlines regarding scams and identity theft involving both tenants and landlords: “Headlines on-line and in print suggest that identify theft continues to be a scourge in the rental market. There are hundreds of different types of scams that will steal vital personal information from both tenants and landlords. Not being aware or prepared for the potential of identity theft and fraud can lead to costly and generally avoidable mistakes.”
A recent on-line article at Consumerist.com (Feb. 27, 2013) briefly outlines how a rental scam works.
The scammy listings are often for completely fictional homes and the sole intent of the posting is to either steal your identity or swindle you out of a “fee” for a credit check that will never actually occur.
Many times the listings provide no photos, provide no address, and sound impossibly amazing for a price that does not make sense. They attempt to get renters to pre-pay tenant screening costs and/or provide a completed credit application, which opens one up to complete identity theft. Ultimately, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
However, just as scams against renters continue to arise, so to do scams against landlords.
In a recent posting on SACommercialPropNews (Feb. 18, 2013) brings to light recent scams on landlords.
Rent is, in most cases, the biggest monthly expense for the average consumer. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise then that scam artists are out to target landlords through identity theft in an effort to avoid paying their dues. This particular type of fraud is quite common – and what is most concerning is how easy it is to become a victim. http://www.sacommercialpropnews.co.za/business-specialties/commercial-property-leasing/5718-rental-scams-target-either-landlords-or-tenants.html
The scam is relatively simple.
A perspective tenant provides “false proof of payment.” An unassuming landlord hands over the keys and by the time the check has been returned as non-sufficient funds and/or completely fraudulent, the tenant has taken control of the rental property forcing the landlord into the eviction process, one that can often take months to successfully resolve. During the eviction process a property gathers no rent. http://www.sacommercialpropnews.co.za/business-specialties/commercial-property-leasing/5718-rental-scams-target-either-landlords-or-tenants.html
Almeida adds: “A thorough tenant screening which includes consumer credit review, evictions, criminal histories, and sexual offender registries, if performed professionally, reduces the possibility of fraud.” He also suggests verifying the validity of a down payment check prior to turning over the keys.
Almeida also notes that another key feature that also protects the renter is the use of TenantScreeningUSA.com’s SmartMove platform that keeps personal/private renter information from being seen or sent to the potential landlord further diminishing the possibility of identity theft, fraud and scams.
Another scam recently reported on MetroNews.CA (Feb. 25, 2013) is outlined below:
The second scam police are warning about has to do with rental properties. A scammer will call a landlord regarding a rental advertisement. The scammer will send a cheque for rent with thousands of dollars in overpayment to the victim landlord. The landlord then refunds the overpayment for rent while the original cheque never cleared at the bank, leaving the landlord short the amount of the over payment. http://metronews.ca/news/regina/573201/regina-police-warn-public-of-scams/
One might immediately assume that the above example is simply too ridiculous to be successful, but if the police are warning about this scam, someone is falling for it.
“It is absolutely critical to carefully and thoroughly screen tenants in order to avoid fraud and theft. Tenant check, reference check, face-to-face interview, and a little time to ensure all the information is verified and complete is essential.” Almeida adds.
Almeida continues: “Tenant checks are an important tool utilized in minimizing the potential for fraud, identity theft, and related scams. Along with a solid dose of common sense, tenant screening helps the landlord and property manager limit the opportunity for financial and identity loss.”
TenantScreeningUSA.com is a third-party background screening company that offers thorough, affordable, and secure tenant checks for property managers large and small. The site also offers a renter friendly platform that protects sensitive renter information which greatly reduces and may even eliminate the possibility of renter identity theft. At TenantScreeningUSA.com their goal is to assist the property managers, landlords and renters minimize the threat and risk of identity theft, fraud and scams through the rental process.