Students warned to be extra vigilant when seeking accommodation for the academic year.
Rental scams have been occurring for some time now and transpire throughout the year.
However, with the academic year set to commence, students returning to third level education are now desperately seeking accommodation.
Scammers often advertise rentals that do not exist or are not available to trick people into sending money.
While you may be hunting for an affordable, comfortable, well located rental, it might also be essential to ask the question; could this be a scam?
Scammers taking advantage of desperate students
Evidence indicates that targets are usually students under the age of 25. Their state of urgency to secure accommodation makes them particularly vulnerable to rental scammers.
The probability of being scammed is even higher if the student is a foreign national.
These students are more than likely to arrange everything online prior to their arrival. If they are already located within the country of their studies, these students are usually based in temporary accommodation paying high rates.
Desperate to secure a long term solution, they end up playing directly into the hands of the fraudsters.
How to Recognize a Rental Scam.
Landlord is out of the Country
Most commonly scammers will create their own listing using the imagery and property details of another genuine rental. They may alter minor details such as the price and change the contact information to their own.
When contacted about the property they will claim to be out of the country, either on business, holiday, or due to the fact they live abroad.
Therefore they are unable to show you the rental in person and will request you pay a deposit and/or first month’s rent to secure the listing.
Once paid, all contact will cease and the scammer will disappear with your money.
Scammer Rents Accommodation
Another common scenario occurs when the scammer rents a home or apartment for a short period of time. During their stay, they take multiple photos and advertise it for rent, claiming to be the property’s landlord.
They show multiple potential tenants around the property and request an immediate payment. They may even provide a set of fake keys to make the transaction appear authentic.
However, when you arrive to move into your new home, the keys do not work and the scammer has disappeared.
Application & Identity Fraud
A scammer may request you submit an application to showcase your interest in their listed rental.
They may request you to submit a copy of your photo ID and proof of address. In addition to scamming you out of your money, they can then use this information to carry out identity fraud.
This tactic can be used in conjunction with the previous two scams or on its own.
How to Avoid a Rental Scam
It can be very easy to fall victim to a rental scam especially in a time of desperation when available, affordable housing is scarce. It is therefore important to remain vigilant and follow the below recommended guidelines.
If the price of the rental seems too good to be true and lower than the surrounding listings, it’s probably a scam.
If the listing contains grammar and/or spelling mistakes, is advertised on social media or if all the communication is had via social media or WhatsApp, it is probably a scam.
You should always arrange to meet a prospective landlord in the accommodation to be rented. A good landlord will make sure to meet you prior to the rental in person or digitally. If a genuine landlord does live out of the country, they would arrange for another individual or letting agent to meet with you.
Finally, never transfer money to a landlord using methods which cannot be reversed, such as cash, bank transfer, cryptocurrency, or gift cards. It is recommended to pay a rental deposit using Trustap.
Trustap is the only platform specifically designed to protect your funds when transacting with strangers. Considering Trustap securely holds your deposit until you have received the keys, you can ensure you will not be scammed.
Through Trustap, renters can ensure a more secure, protected, risk-free transaction process.
Trustap is an instant transactional solution for any payment, eliminating the prospect of fraud and scams.