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How can I avoid rental scams?

Rental scams are unfortunately all too common these days. Common scams utilize certain methods and tactics to trick unwitting renters into parting with large sums of money in the hopes of securing a place to live. The good news is that many scams are pretty obvious, provided you have the right information. U.S. News & World Report explains a few of the many red flags one can look out for when in search of a rental property. 

You're asked for a deposit prior to signing a lease

You'll likely need to undergo a background check before being approved to rent a property. In this case, it's common for the landlord to request a small sum of money to handle the application fees and processing costs. If a landlord requests the security deposit be put down before the lease is signed, it could indicate shady practices. In the same respect, a landlord that is ready to sign a lease before performing a background check should also be approached with caution.

The rent is suspiciously low

Some rental scams involve taking pictures of actual listings and reposting them with false information. In this case, the posting may appear too good to be true, such as a property in a well-off neighborhood with a ridiculously low rental price. The low price could be an attempt to reel in prospective renters, or it could result from a person's ignorance about a certain area. 

You're asked to wire the security deposit/first month's rent

It's customary to meet a leasing agent or landlord upon signing the lease. You should also be provided contact information on how to report issues with the property and pay rent, such as a phone number and address. If you're instructed to wire the deposit or first month's rent without actually meeting the landlord or a representative, you could be subject to a scam. Perform your due diligence and only send money if you can verify that the landlord or rental company are the real deal. 

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