Smart people fall for scams every day. Con artists use good people like you, and good money transfer companies like Western Union, to steal money. Western Union is working with Better Business Bureau to promote awareness of online rental scams.
Knowing what to look for is key in spotting the warning signs of a scam and then avoiding it. After all, you’re the first, last, and best line of defense against scammers.
As consumers scan the Internet for good deals, particularly on free classified websites, sophisticated scammers are poised to prey on unsuspecting people. You may see a fantastic property in a photo being offered at an appealing price, but it could be the photo has no connection to the individual asking you to send money to secure the deal.
BBB Scam Stopper was jointly launched by BBB and Western Union as a site to help consumers reduce their chances of becoming a victim of common scams like this one.
Renters looking for a house or an apartment to lease can get scammed by someone who poses as an “owner.” The “owner” says the renter can secure the place by sending money to cover an application fee, security deposit, etc.
Be cautious when dealing with people who say they currently live overseas or are out of the country on business. Scammers tell victims this to explain why they cannot meet in person. Also be wary if they prefer to communicate via email only.
Some “owners” tell victims to send the money in the name of a friend or family member to prove that funds are available, but this should not be used as a security measure.
In another scenario, legitimate owners seek to rent out their property and get scammed by someone claiming to be a renter. “Renters” contact victims, generally by email, and follow up with a check for the deposit. Shortly after that, the renter cancels the deal and asks the owner to wire the money back. The owner soon finds out the check was a fake, but it is often too late.
Most renters want to see a property before they commit; if they don’t, you could be dealing with a scammer. Another red flag is if they have an unusually strong sense of urgency to get you to rent, or for you to rent your property to them.
Consumers can lower their chances of falling victim to fraud with these tips:
- Never use a money transfer service to send money to people you haven’t met in-person.
- Never provide your banking information to people or businesses you don’t know.
- Never reimburse someone for a payment made to you by check until you call your bank and verify the funds have cleared.
On BBB Scam Stopper, visitors can sign up to receive BBB Scam Alerts, weekly emails with details on the latest scams reported to BBBs across North America.
Information on scams and how to protect yourself is also available at Western Union’s Consumer Protection Center: http://www.westernunion.com/stopfraud.
At Western Union, we work very hard to identify fraudulent transactions and keep them from going through our systems, but scammers are savvy, and their tactics change constantly. The best way to stop fraud is to learn how to identify fraudsters and scams.