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Avoid Rental Scams


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8 Tips to Avoid Rental Scams

January 25, 2023

NOTE: Fairfield ONLY rents our apartments directly through our community’s website or leasing office.

Unfortunately, there are scammers and schemers out there that prey on renters with fake listings and illegitimate rental processes. It's easy to avoid rental scams by paying close attention, trusting your gut, and following a few best practices.


What Is a Rental Scam?

A rental scam is when someone attempts to defraud a renter out of money under the premise of offering an apartment or house for rent. There are many ways these fake landlords or property managers can orchestrate their scam, but the goal is to get you to send money when there is no actual place to rent or this person doesn't have the authority to rent the place in question. Scammers will often place fake ads in places like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, where it's easy to get a free post and upload some photos.

How to Avoid Rental Scams

  1. Check the listing for errors and accuracy. Does the price seem too good to be true? If it does, it probably is. Are there basic grammatical errors or errors about the location or type of property that can be discovered by driving by? These are immediate red flags.
  2. Visit the website of the community. Make contact directly through the website contact form or phone number listed on the website. Scammers will often use fake phone numbers that are unrelated to the community.
  3. Google the address. You want to make sure the address exists as advertised and are looking to see if there is any information related to the address available online.
  4. Request a tour. If your contact has excuses as to why you cannot tour the property, keep your guard up. In the instance that you cannot tour in person, the technology for virtual tours—which can be as simple as a video call—exists. (At Fairfield, we're proud to offer a number of ways to tour including virtual, self-guided, and agent-guided, and we will ALWAYS allow you to tour our community before you lease.)
  5. Do an online search of the rental company, property manager, or contact you're dealing with. It's always a good idea to know who you're getting into business with.
  6. Expect a credit check. Be wary of a landlord or property manager willing to rent to just anyone.
  7. Always sign a written lease. A written lease benefits both parties by clearly outlining the terms of the rental agreement. Even though an oral agreement is binding in many states, it won't do you any favors in the instance of a dispute. Fairfield never leases an apartment without a documented lease agreement.
  8. Don't send money until you are certain. When everything is going well and it's time to sign on the dotted line, be wary of requests for cash. Remember: Zelle, Venmo, PayPal and other money-sending apps work just like cash — once you send it, it’s gone. At Fairfield, we accept online payments through our secure resident portal with direct deposit or credit card. We also accepts checks and PayNearMe.


What to Do if You Suspect You've Been Scammed

If you suspect you've fallen victim to a rental scam and you sent money by check or wire, contact your bank immediately to see if you can stop payment. Next, you can file a complaint with your local police station, the FBI or the FTC.

If you've given the scammer sensitive information about yourself (such as your Social Security number) consider setting up a fraud alert on your credit reports to get a notification if someone tries to apply for credit under your name.

If you spot a rental scam, report it to local law enforcement and the FTC.

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