In the first two parts of this series we talked about how to avoid rental scams, and how con artists set the scams up. This article details what the criminals are after and how they will take advantage of you.
Do you remember filling out that rental application form? The one that asked you for all sorts of information including your address, date of birth, and social security number? All of that information is exactly what is needed for an identity thief to take advantage of you. In addition you also handed over your checking account number – the one printed on the bottom of that nominal non-refundable deposit check that you left behind.
Do yourself – if you feel even the slightest bit skeptical of the person you are speaking with take a few precautionary steps:
- Always withhold sensitive information on an application. Never give a Social Security Number or date of birth until you are are satisfied this is the legitimate home owner or agent.
- Offer a credit card number as a deposit, or a cashier’s check, or a money order or even cash. If they are asking for money upfront before you even see the home it could be a sign of a scam and losing $25 is less expensive than losing your identity.
- Ask the leasing representative to see their information. Ask for a business card, and if they say they are all out or don’t have them press for something else. Even ask to see their driver’s license. If they refuse it is a clear sign something is wrong.
There are a lot of great landlords and homeowners out there who want to rent their home to you. But as the renter it is always important that you protect yourself first. If you have any questions about these posts leave a comment and I will answer them there!