If you’re looking for a place to rent in the Denver metro area, knowing how to spot a rental listing scam is crucial to protecting yourself from fraud and financial loss. Rental scams can be deceptive, but there are several red flags you can watch out for to ensure you're dealing with a legitimate listing. Here's how you can spot a rental listing scam.
Requests for Upfront Payment
One of the most common rental scams involves requesting upfront payments, such as a security deposit, before you've even seen the property. While it’s normal for legitimate landlords to ask for a security deposit, it’s not normal for a landlord to take any kind of payment without signing a lease agreement first. Be suspicious of landlords or agents who demand money in advance.
Scammers often offer properties at unbelievably low prices to lure in potential victims. If a listing seems too good to be true, it probably is. Compare the price to similar rentals in the same Denver area to get a sense of the market rate.
Limited or Generic Information
Scammers might provide vague details about the property, and the listing may lack specific information about the neighborhood, amenities, or lease terms. Be cautious if the description of the property seems generic and lacks essential details.
Suspicious Payment Methods
Scammers often prefer untraceable payment methods like wire transfers or prepaid debit cards. Legitimate landlords typically accept payments through checks, credit cards, or direct bank transfers.
Refusal to Meet in Person
If the supposed landlord avoids meeting you in person or conducting a property tour, it's a red flag. Any real landlord in the Denver metro area should be willing to meet with you in person to show you the property and answer any questions you have about the rental.
Research the Property and Landlord
Any time you’re looking for a place to rent, it's important to research the property and the landlord. You can search Denver public records for property ownership and look for reviews or complaints about the property management company. You can confirm the landlord's identity by asking for their ID and checking it against public records. Scammers may use fake names and IDs.
You should also check the property’s history including any legal disputes or issues. This information can also be found in public records and can provide valuable insights into the property's legitimacy.
Communication Red Flags
Poor grammar, unusual email addresses, and requests for personal information are signs of a potential rental listing scam. Always verify the contact information and email addresses to make sure you’re dealing with a real and local landlord in Denver.
Also be cautious of unsolicited emails or texts that contain links or ask for personal information. Scammers may pose as landlords or property management companies in these phishing emails or texts.
Lack of a Lease Agreement
A proper lease agreement protects both the landlord and the tenant. If the landlord doesn't provide a written lease agreement, it could be a sign of a scam. Don’t get into a lease without the proper agreement in writing.
If something about the renting process feels off or makes you uncomfortable, trust your instincts. It's important to stay vigilant when searching for rental properties. By being aware of these red flags and taking the time to research and verify the legitimacy of a rental listing, you can greatly reduce the risk of falling victim to a rental scam. You can keep up-to-date with all the latest scams by signing up for our weekly Fraud News & Alerts updates.