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Big Money, Big Risk

by Rebecca Barr | Mar 29, 2019 11:05:48 AM

When my
husband and I decided to move to the Treasure Valley my first mission was getting
us a place to live. It was quite the task! Finding somewhere that was available,
pet-friendly and affordable proved to be more difficult than I anticipated.

But
nonetheless after many hours searching online and communicating back and forth
with property managers, we found a place to live. However, I proceeded with
caution.

The amount
of personal information required on a rental application was a lot. The money
required for fees and deposits was also a lot. It can be scary handing that
over to a person or company you’ve never dealt with. Being new to the area, I
had to really do my research and ask around. Our situation turned out fine, but
that isn’t always the case.  Moving is
enough of a headache, just imagine showing up to your new place, ready to move
in and realizing you’ve been scammed!

All that
time looking for a new place to live, wasted. The deposit you put down on your
new rental, gone. Your personal information to run a credit check, stolen. What
a nightmare!

Here’s what
you need to know to make sure you don’t get caught up in a rental scam:

The housing shortage in the Treasure Valley is a breeding
ground for rental scams. Scammers know this and target eager renters who rush
into agreements without doing the necessary research. Online listings may lure
you in with beautiful homes, low rents, and great amenities. Then, the scammer
claims to be out of town and unable to show the property.

Next, scammers create a false sense of urgency, telling
prospective renters that others are interested so immediate action is required.
The renter puts down a security deposit and fills out an application, only to
find out that the property is not available… or doesn’t even exist.

A report to BBB Scam Tracker said they found a four-bedroom
house in Boise, “Scammer pretended to be the owner and even though there were
obvious red flags, in hindsight, my partner and I were too excited and in a
rush to act on our instincts. While we didn’t lose two-grand to this awful
person, we did lose potential personal information, gas money was wasted and so
was our time.”  

BBB also received reports from a local real estate agent out
of Canyon County who saw her client’s house that she had listed for sale, up on
Craigslist for rent. “I have received
multiple calls from people inquiring on the rental. These people are saying the
guy is telling them to send him $850 deposit money and he will send them the
house keys.”

Boise Police Department also has reports of local people
falling victim to this scam. They told me that unfortunately, once the money is
gone it’s unlikely to be seen again. Edward Fritz, Crime Prevention Supervisor
at Boise Police Department states, “Because the suspect is typically out
of the area, or sometimes country, recovering a victim’s money is extremely
difficult.”

To avoid
this scam, be cautious of listings that are too good to be true. Make sure you
check out the property in-person before giving out personal information or
sending money. Don’t fall for the “overseas landlord” scheme. If you are
dealing with a property management company, look them up on BBB.org. And
lastly, avoid wiring money or using other forms of untraceable payments.

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