Internet Rental Scams
RALEIGH, NC (April 16, 2018)…Finding affordable housing is a challenge in many parts of North Carolina, and rental scammers are well aware of this fact. They exploit the situation by “hijacking” existing online ads (substituting their contact information for the real owner or agent), or by cutting and pasting photos from actual rental property listings to create a new online listing, or by making up online listings for rental units that don’t exist.
These scammers, who tend to use free sites like Craigslist to post their fake ads, generally offer to rent at a bargain price to get your attention. If you have conditions (needing it on short notice, only needing it short term, or not knowing how long you will need it), those conditions will turn out to be no problem for the owner or agent. Depending on the length of the rental you need, be wary of owners or agents who ask you to pay multiple months of rent up front or as a deposit, especially if they ask you to make the payment via an uncommon method like wire transfer.
If you are seeking housing with a modest rent, you might be delighted by your good fortune to find this unit. The possibility that the ad could be a scam might not cross your mind. But when renting, keep your guard up. Be aware that consumers can be victimized in their search for affordable housing, and seek out additional information to help you spot and avoid rental scammers.
If you think you’ve been victimized by this or any scam, file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division or call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.
This message brought to you on behalf of North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein.