(Grenville County, ON) Recently, the Grenville County Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have had reports of fraudulent house rental listings on social media sites. Often, these rental listing will be listed at a below market value and require an upfront payment. The OPP would like to remind the public to be aware of such scams. The properties in these scams can be real, but not owned by the fraudster or the property may not even exist. Here are some ways the potential renter can protect themselves:
- See if you can talk with someone who has rented from the same person or company in the past.
- Conduct an internet search on the property to see who may live there as well as to determine if there are additional rental adds for the same property.
- Check the place out if you can. It’s always a good idea to physically see a property before any money changes hands.
- Fraudsters prey on people who are in a bind and in a hurry to find a place to rent as emotions can make people more vulnerable.
- Ads for apartments below market value are almost always lures used by scam artists.
- Never give your social security number.
- Never do business with an overseas landlord unless you have personally verified their identity and that they actually own the apartment advertised.
- Deal locally in person and face to face.
- Be wary if the landlord only wants to communicate via e-mail or refuses to talk on the phone.
- Be cautious if the landlord is currently out of the country or resides far from where the apartment is located.
- Scan any attachments from landlords with anti-virus software before opening. One of the latest scams involves attachments contains a virus that can fool your Web browser to make it appear as though you’re going to a legitimate site but in fact are being sent to a site controlled by the scammer.
- If the application process feels rushed, or the whole experience just seems too good to be true, it may be wise not to pursue it.
- Scammers will almost always ask for money up front, like a security deposit or first and last month’s rent. If you’re not sure about where it’s going, don’t send it.
- Whenever possible, try to make payments with a credit card.
- Exercise extreme caution before wiring deposits or rent payments using Western Union or MoneyGram, especially to foreign countries.
- If a renter “dodges your questions or keeps emphasizing how it’s such a good deal and you need to hand over the money … W-A-L-K away.
If you become a victim of a scam, file a complaint with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center at 1-888-495-8501 and contact your local police. The OPP can be reached at 1-888-310-1122