BUFFALO, N.Y. — Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York (BBB) is warning apartment hunters to be aware of rental scams.
According to the BBB, some scammers have posed as a property manager or landlord at try to take advantage of a renter in urgent need of housing.
The Lackawanna Police Department also put out a warning alerting potential renters to be leery of scammers requesting payments through cash apps or gift cards.
The Better Business Bureau say the scam works when a renter responds to an online rental listing offering low rent and great amenities. The scammers use real photos and descriptions that are lifted from other websites. The scammer responds to your online inquiry, claiming to be unavailable to show you the property, but urges you to "act now" and request you send the month through a "peer to peer" money app. Other scammers may also ask for other personal details, like your social security number.
The BBB's Scam Tracker has received reports of renters losing thousands of dollars after sending the "landlord" fees to hold the apartment, deposit and first month's rent.
How can you avoid begin scammed? The BBB has several tips to avoid a rental scam:
- Watch out for deals that are too good. Scammers lure you in by promising low rents, extra amenities, and a great location. If the price seems much better than elsewhere, it may be a scam.
- Search online for similar properties. Do a quick search for the listing, scammer’s email address, or phone number. If you find the same as listed in other cities, that’s a huge red flag.
- See the property in person. Don’t send money to someone you’ve never met for an apartment you haven’t seen. If you can’t visit an apartment or house yourself, ask someone you trust to go and confirm that it is what was advertised.
- Don’t pay a stranger with cash transfer apps. Many scammers now ask for payments through peer-to-peer apps. Only use these apps with people you know. It's ok to pay a landlord you trust with a payment app, but don't use this payment method to secure an apartment or pay a deposit.