A rental scam happens when someone posing as the owner of a property through an online ad is renting out “his” property to unsuspected victims. Right now, a lot of homeowners have found their own homes online and part of scam. Yep, people could be paying to rent your home right now without you knowing it. How? Well, the most common way is to either hijack real rental property ads that are displayed online. The scammers can simply copy the ads, use the pictures and repost them on different websites. The trick is they post their information. This happens a lot with current rentals, former rental listings, current or former for sale property listings, and even vacation homes. Once the victim starts communicating with the scammers through email, the “contact” for the “rental” property obtains your personal social security number has part one of the scam (and to be used at a later date) and then a money order deposit for the property as part two of the scam. Then the listing is gone or you have very unhappy people showing up at your property wondering what is going on!
Can you do anything about this? Yes and no. There is no real way to prevent this. Some people take photos of homes and then put them online with fake details. Scammers are scammers. You can add your address to a Google alert as a proactive way to keep up on if your home is being shopped as a rental by scammers. If you believe you have been a victim of a scam, or your home has been illegally used, you can report it to the FTC. Here’s some more info from the FTC: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0079-rental-listing-scams
If you want help renting out your property or renting a property, contact me. I do have valid resources.