COLORADO SPRINGS — Right at our fingertips we can find home and vacation rental listings posted every day on social media and public marketplace websites, but sometimes the people behind these posts are just hoping you’ll take the bait on a phony listing.
”We are looking for a short-term rental because we are buying a house and the time is running out to figure out what we’re going to do,” said News5 viewer and area resident Ronda Iliff.
She reached out to News5 because she says she’s fed up with being targeted by people behind phony online rental postings.
”I think people can expect to lose at least a couple thousand dollars if they fall for it,” said Iliff.
Specifically on Craigslist she says she’s been flagging listings as suspicious.
On Craigslist in particular there are tabs to help consumers educate themselves on phony posts and to flag and report suspicious activity. These are important features because an uptick in rental listing scam reports prompted the Federal Trade Commission to issue a warning about common tactics used by fraudsters.
According to the FTC In many cases they hijack legitimate rental ads changing contact information and reposting it, hoping an unsuspecting consumer will contact them and pay them up front.
Also, they’ll create a phantom rental making up listings for places that aren’t for rent or don’t exist. They’ll promise low rent and great amenities hoping to get your money before you find out.
”Confirming it’s a legit address is not enough. You have to take additional steps,” said Adah Rodriguez of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado.
To avoid falling victim to a rental scam consumer experts say you...
- shouldn’t pay someone you’ve never met and don’t know
- push to meet in person and tour the property to verify it’s as advertised
- Be suspicious if the person advertising the property doesn’t take steps to make sure you are trustworthy too.
”If the owner is asking to do everything virtual and is mailing you the keys and they don’t care much about your history or want some of this information up front, that’s a red flag because this is an owner that you are going into their home. So, ideally both parties want to meet to make sure it’s a good fit,” said Rodriguez.
Find more resources to protect yourself and report rental listing scams here: https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/rental-listing-scams
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