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Renters Beware: How to protect yourself from a scam as rent prices rise

Research shows 5.2 million U.S. renters lost money from rental fraud.
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(stock photo)

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Renters beware. As rent continues to rise in a tight housing market, scammers may be looking to take your money.

According to aptarmentlist.com, 5.2 million U.S. renters lost money from rental fraud.

Lechelle Yates is the Director of Communications for the Better Business Bureau of Central and Northwest North Carolina. She said scammers could have one of two goals. She said they are either trying to get your money for a property they do not have the ability to rent or the scammer may be hoping to get your personal information.

“We had a renter in the Triad who reported to BBB Scam Tracker that she had filled out a rental application including her social security number and she said that the landlord ended up taking out a line of credit,” Yates said.

Yates said scammers often bait potential renters by posting stolen pictures from real rental listings.

“Don’t be baited by the sense of urgency, whether it’s a sense of urgency on your part because you’ve found the perfect house or apartment, or you need to move in for some reason,” Yates said. “Or the sense of urgency on their part that they have a whole list of people who want this place and you need to act now.”

Here are some ways to protect yourself:

  • See the property in person
  • Try to meet the landlord
  • Call the rental property company
  • Do your research

When applying for a rental property, Yates said it’s a good idea to pay with a credit card.

So, if you do fall victim to a scam, your bank can reverse the charge. 

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