Avoid Scams When Looking to Rent, Says The Better Business Bureau

April 03, 2014

CHICAGO, IL – April 3, 2014 – In today’s market, fewer people are buying homes so it’s no surprise that dishonest companies and landlords are now targeting renters. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) urges consumers to be aware of these types of scams when looking for an apartment or house.

"Scammers often take advantage of people looking for a new place by asking for personal information such as credit history, social security numbers and work history, which leaves the victim open to identity theft," said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois.

Additionally, Bernas noted, “Would be renters may get offers of great deals on the rent. The landlord may attempt to rent a property sight unseen, or in other cases may avoid meeting with the tenant.”

In the past twelve months alone, there have been 97 complaints filed in the "Apartment Finding & Rental Service" category. 4,398 consumers have inquired to the BBB about these companies in the same time frame.

The BBB offers the following advice when looking to rent:

  • Check Business Reviews of Northern Illinois Apartment Finding & Rental Service companies for free at www.bbb.org
  • Only deal with individuals and organizations who are local and visit the location you are interested in renting before paying any money or signing any contracts;
  • Be suspicious if you're asked to only use a wire transfer service for rental payments;
  • Beware of e-mail correspondence from a potential "landlord" that's written in poor English or doesn't make complete sense;
  • Visit as many homes or apartments as you can in order to have a better idea of what your money buys;
  • Don't give out personal information, like social security, bank account or credit card numbers during a rental search.
  • Research the average rental rates in the area and be suspicious if the rate is significantly lower;
  • Be wary of agencies guarantying services despite your credit history;

“Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” adds Bernas.

For more information on businesses you can trust, visit www.bbb.org


As a private, non-profit organization, the purpose of the Better Business Bureau is to promote an ethical marketplace. BBBs help resolve buyer/seller complaints by means of conciliation, mediation and arbitration. BBBs also review advertising claims, online business practices and charitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue reports on businesses and nonprofit organizations and encourage people to check out a company or charity before making a purchase or donation.