Dispatches From Scammerland: How Could I Rent My House Without Knowing It?

rent house 150x150 Dispatches From Scammerland: How Could I Rent My House Without Knowing It?Imagine yourself sitting at home, watching TV, when there is a knock at the door. It is a family of prospective renters, wanting to be shown around your house. Only, it’s not for rent!

Over the weekend, the BBB received an email from a Montana homeowner who stated that, without his knowledge, his property had been listed on a rental website.

What’s the deal?

By falsely listing properties for rent, a scammer could get victims to fill out fake rental agreements—and gain access to their personal information. Fake rental ads on Craigslist, for example, may ask for your social security number in order to “pre-approve” your application.

If you’re searching for a place to live, be sure to keep your logic hat on at all times. Recently, in Massachusetts, a scammer emailed an undercover reporter that he had “Traveled overseas unexpectedly and taken his house key with him.” That was his excuse for not having a key to the house he supposedly owned. “Look at the outside of the property,” he emailed, “Then send me some money and I’ll send you the key.”

The logical response: “No, you get another key made, and I’ll let you know if I like the inside of the property.”

What Are They After?
Remember, just like in the old Agatha Christie murder mysteries, the key to understanding scams is to ask yourself: What’s the motive? In fraud cases, what would a scammer stand to gain? Usually the answer is either 1) Your money or 2) Your personal information, or both.

You can report Internet scams to the website they’re using and also to the Internet Crime Reporting Center at www.ic3.gov. If the crime continues on to use the US Mail, report to the Postal Inspection Service, Criminal Investigations Center at 877-876-2455.

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About Holly Doering

Holly Doering has worked for the Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Washington, North Idaho, and Montana for half a decade. Her areas of expertise include the CORE Values Program (Character, Optimism, Respect, Ethics) for Teens and Charity Review as well as writing and editing. Prior to that, she has written for two newspapers, a local magazine, and taught English at the community college. She is the proud author of a short story in ZYZZYVA literary magazine and has had good luck publishing lots of poetry. Each year she rolls up her sleeves and wades into the autumn Nanowrimo writing madness and has several unfinished novels to her credit.