Rental scams can be easier to spot if you look out for a few key signs and follow specific guidelines in your search. NY1's Bree Driscoll filed the following report.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That is the key to spotting a rental scam.
"They all boil down to the same thing: the scammer trying to rent the apartment that he does not have the authority to rent," says Teri Rogers, the CEO and founder of Brickunderground.com
Rogers says when searching for a place to live, keep your eyes peeled for signs of a scam.
"Know the market," she says. "Know what things should be priced at. Pay attention to the person. Do they seem nervous? Do they seem like they are aggressive or bullying you into doing this? Or, on the opposite extreme, are they too casual?"
Rogers says scammers often ask you to wire funds, give cash or rent something sight unseen. She says avoid giving money without getting and trying the keys first and don't give more than one month's rent in advance.
"If you are subletting, make sure you see the lease and take the ID of the person subletting, the legal tenant, and make sure it is the person on the lease," she says. "And ideally, get the landlord's permission in writing."
Rogers says to also look out for scammers who collect multiple non-refundable application fees from potential renters at an open house with no intention of renting the apartment. When the potential renters follow up to see if they got the apartment, they are told it was rented to someone else.
The best protection from scams is a good defense.
"Google the names of everyone involved," Rogers says. "The landlord, the legal tenant if there is one and the address of the building to look for any other people complaining about scams."
If you have been the victim of a scam, you should call the police and notify the publisher of the fraudulent listing.