There has been an uptick in rental scams specifically within the Houston area. With the higher rental prices, this makes it a hotbed for rental scammers. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out for rental rates on homes that are significantly lower than market value.
Tags: rental scam tips
There are commonalities with all rental scam emails. Below are some tips when dissecting a rental scam email.
- Does the email start out with Sir / Madam?
- Are there misspellings in the email?
- Are there character mistakes in the email? i.e Hello,my nameis Susie.
- Is there excessive capitalization?
- Does the email reference God, UK, Cashiers Check, Doctor, Nigeria, Reverend, etc.
- Is the email from a free email provider. i.e gmail, yahoo, aol, hotmail.
- Does the email refer to another person or agent?
- Does the email reference wanting to move in site unseen?
If the email has a majority of these commonalities, then the chances are very good it is a scammer. If you are unsure, it is best to not reply to the email.
Over the last year or so, the rental industry has seen a dramatic rise in rental scams and rental scam complaints.
At rentbits.com, we do everything in our power to ensure rental scams don’t get sent to our clients or renters. It is virtually impossible to stop every single scam email from getting through our system, but for those that do, we hope through education we will be able to hit the scammers where it hurts the most, through economics.
If we can eliminate the economic incentives for scammers, we can eliminate their behavior completely. If we can educate renters, property managers, owners, and agents on the various rental scams, over time, scammers will no longer have an economic incentive to scam.
There are a variety of tools sites use to help educate consumers and decrease the chances of a scammer contacting a client or renter.
Here are some examples:
- Every Phone Number is Masked with a free Toll Free number
- One thing you don’t want is to have your cell phone or house number out there for all to see. It is very easy to to do a reverse phone lookup and find your name, address, and any other information these scammers can use against you.
- Known Scammer emails and Phone Numbers are Filtered
- Being proactive, (stopping scam emails from reaching our clients) and Reactive (Immediately stopping scammer email and phone numbers from reaching any further clients)
- Using other proprietary filtering technology
- Educational Tools
- Every email has a scammer warning attached
- We recently launched RentalScams.org to help educate and call out scammer email addresses and email content
- Who to contact about scam information in account
- Screening Ads
- Some scammers try to post ads and do a “Property Owner Scam“
- We Screen ads using a variety of techniques
There is more we as an industry can do to help in the destruction of the rental scammer business model. By working together, we can do much more than working alone.
Some thoughts on how we can work together (I will write more about this in another post). Some suggestions may not work but this is meant to start a conversation:
- Central Rental Scammer Database
- All rental and classifieds sites could connect to it in real time to post or receive data on known rental scammers.
- Help from ISPs and Email providers like Yahoo, AOL, Gmail, etc
- Most free email providers are automatically reading the content of the email in order to serve relevant ads. Gmail for example does this and notifies users of known phishing emails. Why couldn’t Google do this with renter scammers? Most scam emails have very similar content.
- Government Agency Help
- Combined Rental and Classified Help
- What about a cookie being placed on known scammer browsers? If that scammer tries to go to another participating rental or classified site they are flagged.
What you some of your ideas?
Our mission is to educate renters, property managers, agents and owners on the many different types of rental scams that are on the internet today.
The only way to defeat scammers is by eliminating their economic incentives to continue scamming. We feel, through education, we can accomplish this goal.