Rental Search Safety Tips
We take great pride in the fact that the vast majority of listings on roomdock.com are legitimate; however, please be aware that some individuals may post property rental listings for the sole purpose of scamming a potential renter. While we do everything we can to help and protect renters using roomdock.com, occasionally we hear about unusual or suspicious communications between potential renters and individuals posing as property owners which resulted in the renter being scammed. For this reason, we have compiled the following list of tips on recognizing potential scams to help provide a safer online rental experience.
If it seems "too good to be true," it probably is and you should beware.
Does the monthly rent for the apartment seem unusually low or significantly less than market value for the area? Investigate similar apartments in your desired area to determine the approximate rent that you should expect to pay. Trust your instincts, never send money without seeing the rental, stop all communications and walk away from any suspicious situation.
Check out who you're dealing with online.
Make sure to meet your prospective landlord or property manager in person before deciding to rent an apartment or providing any personal information about you. If you feel like any contact or communication you are receiving is suspicious, look up the individual's name or company online to see if you can find any further information.
Avoid unusual forms of payment.
Never use a wire transfer service, such as Western Union or MoneyGram, or an online escrow service when sending money (such as a down payment or security deposit) for an apartment. Always try to deal locally and never send money overseas.
Never rent an apartment "sight unseen."
Before sending or paying any money (including by cashier's check), ensure that the apartment's condition, size, features, and amenities match what was described in the online listing by visiting the apartment yourself or by asking a friend to visit for you. Don't fall for "send me the deposit and I will send you the keys".
Please be aware that roomdock.com does not participate in lease transactions or money transfers.
Do not do business with anyone who promises that roomdock.com is handling any part of the actual lease transaction, including payment protection, apartment certification, escrow services or "satisfaction guarantees" of any kind.
Common Signs of Online Apartment Fraud
While none of the examples below are a definite indication of fraud, proceed with caution if you encounter any of these conditions when dealing with a landlord or property manager. Please note that the example emails below contain misspellings, poor grammar and incomplete sentences which are frequently seen in situations where a fraud may exist.
Landlord in distant location
The landlord or property manager claims to reside far away from the apartment, often outside the United States and is unavailable to speak by phone or meet face-to-face.
Pressure to complete transaction
You are being rushed or unusually pressured into paying a fee, deposit or initial rent amount before you have had an opportunity to view the apartment.
Circumstances hard to believe
There is an unusual set of circumstances that attempts to explain why the rent for an apartment is below market value or why the apartment cannot be viewed prior to being rented.
No direct contact with landlord
The landlord or property manager is unwilling to meet you in person or speak with you over the telephone.
Where to Report Online Fraud
If you suspect or become a victim of online fraud, promptly report the incident to local law enforcement authorities. Additionally, please consider contacting one or all of the following online resources:
Internet Crime Complaint Center
Federal Trade Commission
If you believe that your personal financial information has been revealed to a person who might use it inappropriately, visit the FTC's identity theft website at www.consumer.gov/idtheft for important information about protecting yourself.