Zillow rental scams are unfortunately currently a reality. Be aware and protect yourself!
Recently, a 59 year old New York man was arrested for allegedly pretending to be a real estate agent and scamming people out of thousands of dollars. He apparently used Zillow, Trulia, Craigslist, and Hotpads to find his potential victims. Here is more about that case in an article on the Daily Voice website.
Zillow even has a section on its’ website about potential scams and how to avoid being a victim of one.
Here is their advice on how to avoid being scammed:
- If a rental list price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Check multiple sites to see if the house is elsewhere – often if you google the address, and the house is actually for sale, you will find the “for sale” listing on google and can contact the listing agent to find out whether the house is also for rent – and how it is being handled.
- The potential “landlord” asks for routing numbers for your bank account or social security number (without an application process.) I added the “without an application process” because on an official application, you will often need to provide your SSN to have a credit check run.
- This rental property is listed for sale on another website. See #1 !
- The description of the property is poorly written or error-ridden. Most home owners or real estate agents will try to make their descriptions as error free as possible.
- The landlord does not live in the state (or the country.) It is not usual for a landlord to ask you to send money and then mail you a key. Usually out of state owners have some sort of local contact or a way to get someone there to meet you if they can’t.
- The landlord asks you to wire funds. Do not wire funds before seeing a house or without personal contact and a fully signed application and potentially a fully signed lease.
These scam cases take advantage of people needing to find a place to live, and have them send money, claiming the will send the key. You may get a key – it just won’t fit that door because you have no legal right to that house – as the scammer had no legal right to lease it to you. They are gone, have your money, and you don’t have a place to live.
Make sure to check, double check, and triple check lease listings and check other websites to ensure it is a real listing.