1 in 3 people who have been impacted by fraud in renting has resulted in more than $1,000 in losses.
I read an article in the Wall Street Journal that suggested that “More than two-thirds of teens say they would rather communicate with their friends online than in person”. Watching girls at a baseball game, this is obvious, yikes. Property management and real estate are going through technology transformations. Online applications, performing primary searches online, paying rent through Venmo and team communication through Slack are just a few of the major technology uses. It makes life so easy signing documents without having to meet in person. Wouldn’t you rather see your account balance go to “$0.00” immediately than hope your check doesn’t get lost in the mail?
All of this technology stuff is hard for me to see as anything other than the second coming of Jesus. So just as I tell you how much I love technology, I need to tell you to STOP!!! For at least 5 minutes and read this blog post.
Online fraud grows with the growth of online usage. Over 5 million renters effected by fraud in some way:
- In a new study, Apartment List found that an estimated 5.2 million U.S. renters have lost money due to a rental scam. In addition, 43.1 percent of surveyed renters, have encountered scam listings or contacted fraudulent properties while apartment hunting.
- The issue is especially prominent among millennials, who although generally tend to be more tech-savvy than their older counterparts, often lack the necessary skills to recognize fraudulent postings.
- Renters aged 18 to 29 years, are 42 percent are more likely to fall victim to fraud, probably due to a lack of renting experience or moving quite far from home and not being able to visit their new places before the move-in date.
This results in an estimated 88.3 percent of renters with negative renting experiences, changing how they search for their future home.
1 in 3 impacted lost more than $1,000 due to fraud:
What Can You Do?
Understand that not everyone out there is good. You need to know that just because someone promises you a “deal of a century”, it might be false. If you and the listing representative e-mail back and forth, follow-up with a phone call. If it is a private property owner/manager, verify information on the county records or google the person/manager in question. The ability to research online has never been easier. Use it.
Request Seeing The Property
Site unseen is not a good practice. Unless you are using FaceTime for a showing, never sign a lease site unseen. Routing you through an application process and online payment schemes won’t be easy if the property in question doesn’t actually exist.
Use the Triangle
“This is an A to B conversation, C your way out.” Actually C, make your way back and see if I am being an idiot. When you are conducting business with just one other person, it is easy to get scammed. Using Google is a great start to verify, but asking an expert is never a bad idea either. Call a local property manager and check to see if what you’re doing sounds legitimate.
- Don’t give your credit card over the phone
- Don’t take anyone at their word
- Don’t give any personal information through e-mail or texts
- Don’t open any e-mail attachments without knowing exactly what they are
Rental fraud will continue to increase as online usage increases. The fraudsters are getting more and more creative. It always seems like we are on the responsive side of the defense and not proactive. We have Lifelock to help stop identity theft before it gets too bad. We have information that we share to help inform the public. It is ultimately up to you to make sure you do everything you can to make sure your financials and identity are safe. Online fraud is scary, but if you go into it with your eyes wide open, you can possibly prevent it.