Protect Yourself from Rental Scams and Fraud
Unfortunately, rental scams are quite common and scammers’ tactics are only becoming more sophisticated and difficult to detect. At Progress Residential, we fight to protect our residents and future residents from falling victim to these scams.
The Common Rental Scam
- Gain access to a home during a self-showing appointment and make a copy of the house key.
- List the home on Craigslist or another open listing site that allows a person to easily list goods or services for rent for a price that is well below market value.
- Portray themselves as the property managers and guide the potential victim through a home tour.
- Ask victims to complete fake rental applications and require security deposits, first and last month’s rent, etc. often in the form of cash or by wiring money.
- Turn the keys over to the victim and walk away, taking the victim’s money and leaving them in a home they have no legitimate right to occupy.
How to Avoid Rental Scams
Only browse for homes through reputable sites like RENTPROGRESS.COM
Listings are controlled and validated on reputable sites like Progress, Rent.com, Rentals.com, Zillow, or Zumper.
Remember: scammers use sites that are not strictly monitored, like Craigslist, where they can easily list properties with no verification.
If it sounds too good to be true, it is
Legitimate property managers understand the fair market value of their homes and will try to stay close to the home’s actual value. Rental value is based on the neighborhood, square footage, upgrades to the home, etc. - very similar to how home sale prices are calculated.
Remember: Scammers understand they have a very short amount of time to fraudulently use the home, so they list it for as much as $500-1,500 less than what similar homes are listed for. If you see rental prices that are significantly lower than they should be, walk away.
Never Wire Money, Pay in Cash, or Pay with Cash Apps or services like Zelle, Venmo, Paypal, or Apple/Google
Requests for cash payments or wiring money are a huge warning sign.
Remember: Reputable property managers will typically accept multiple kinds of payments and will not ask you to wire money or pay in cash. Progress Residential, for example, accepts checks, credit/debit cards, ACH and auto payment, WIPS (Walk-in Payment Systems), and payment by text.
Beware of unprofessional, overly simple rental applications
Most often, scammers are after your money and personal information like your social security number. They have no intention of performing a background check or any of the due diligence that property managers commonly perform, so they don’t need as much information.
Remember: Scammers will ask you to fill out fake applications to steal personal information and make the process seem legitimate. Make sure any rental applications you receive look professional in appearance, are free from typos, list the property manager’s contact information, and include Fair Housing and American Disability logos. If in doubt, verify the information on the application through the property management website or online listings.
Be suspicious if there is no credit or background check
Legitimate property managers will always perform due diligence on potential residents, which includes running credit and background checks.
Remember: Scammers may try to use "no credit or background check" as a positive selling point, but don't fall for it.
Look for professional credentials from your point of contact
Your point of contact should always be able to prove who they are and who they work for. For example, all Progress Residential team members carry company ID badges and use company email addresses.
Remember: If the person you’re communicating with doesn’t have an email address that matches the company URL, or claims to be a part of a rental company but doesn’t have a business card or name badge, you should call the company and verify their identity.
Victims of rental scams and fraud lose more than just money...
Not only do people lose thousands of dollars to scammers, they often turn over sensitive personal information like social security numbers, bank account information, and more when they complete fake lease applications. Beyond that:
- Victims move into the home without realizing they’ve dealt with fraudulent parties. It can be days before it's clear they've been scammed.
- Victims suddenly find themselves living in a home they have no legitimate right to occupy, which makes them subject to eviction.
- Victims lose all of the money they paid to the scammers, as well as their moving expenses, and now have to quickly find a new home.
- Victims not only have to deal with the financial impact, but also the stress and emotional fallout over of being scammed.
If you’ve been scammed, you’re not alone. Please contact local law enforcement and the Federal Trade Commission right away. You should also contact the website where the home was posted and report the fraudulent posting to them.
When reporting scams, it’s important to include as much information as possible. Things like email addresses, names, physical descriptions, vehicles used, and license tag numbers can help law enforcement stop the scammer. If you wired money, be ready to provide the name and address of the sender, the location from where the wire was sent, the date and amount of the transfer, the transfer fee, the date and actual location of the receipt, the name of the receiver, any information recorded regarding the receiver’s identification, the reference number for the transfer, and the details of the nature of the issue.
If you're concerned you're being scammed as you lease one of our homes, please let us know right away by calling 833.PRG.RESS (833.774.7377).