- Requesting deposit money upfront: Be wary of any listings that ask for payment or wired money before you have seen the property or signed a lease. Scammers often try to get you to hold the rental and send money before ever meeting you. If this is the case, walk away from the potential security deposit scam.
- Landlord or leasing agent not available: If the person who replies to the listing claims to be out of town, sick, or simply unavailable to meet, yet still demands a security deposit, it could be a scam. Scammers avoid meeting in person so that they can't be reported, and they escape with your deposit. A legitimate landlord will arrange to meet you in person and show you the property.
- Fake or false listings: Even if you meet the landlord, it's important to view the property before signing a lease. Scammers can easily copy another listing and claim to have a fake property. Another red flag is a request for an unusually high-security deposit, as scammers will quickly disappear after receiving the money.
- Added fees for background checks: While it is common for landlords to check a potential tenant's credit and background, some scams involve requiring potential tenants to pay exorbitant fees to cover these checks.
- No lease required: Without a lease, you might be at risk for potential problems. Even month-to-month leases usually have some form of agreement that outlines the responsibilities of both parties.
By being aware of these warning signs, you can protect yourself from rental scams and find a legitimate rental property. Always trust your instincts and be cautious when dealing with potential landlords or leasing agents.