As Rent Costs Soar, Rental Scams Flourish

July 11, 2012

Denver, CO – July 11, 2012 – According to the real estate website, Trulia, the average cost for renting housing in Denver has increased 10.9 percent since June 2011, which is twice the national increase. As rent skyrockets in our community, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) says con artists take notice and consumers become more vulnerable.

Rental scams are especially common on sites like Craigslist, and those looking for a place to rent, as well as those who are trying to rent out their home to a tenant can fall victim. Homeowners can be victimized if a scammer sends them a counterfeit check for the deposit, which is made out for more than the amount due, and then asks for the difference to be sent back to them. Renters fall victim in several other ways. They can lose money sent for a deposit or even become victims of identity theft.

“When low rent is tough to find, those searching for housing should remember that any offer that sounds like an incredible bargain is probably a scam,” said Dale Mingilton, president and CEO of the BBB Serving Denver/Boulder. “Finding a new place and moving is stressful but you must take the time to choose carefully.”

The BBB warns of the following red flags of rental scams and advice for each:

· Red flag: The deal sounds too good to be true.

    • Advice: Scammers will often list a rental for a very low price to lure victims. Find out how comparable listings are priced. If the rental comes in suspiciously low, consider walking away.
  • Red flag: The landlord is located elsewhere and prefers to communicate via email.
    • Advice: Scammers might say they have just been relocated out of the country for a job or missionary work. If the landlord is truly overseas, there is also no way to get a copy of a lease or keys. Verify who owns the home with the title company or with the help of real estate services that provide complete reports on landlords.
  • Red flag: The landlord requires a substantial deposit before handing over the keys or even showing the property.
    • Advice: Don’t pay any money before inspecting the home, inside and out. Most reputable Realtors will allow potential home renters to view and see the property before taking any money.
  • Red flag: The landlord asks the renter to wire money through services such as Western Union or Money Gram.
    • Advice: Money sent via wire transfer service is extremely difficult to retrieve. Once the scammers have picked it up, there is little recourse, if any, for getting any money back.

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About the BBB

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