Thursday, September 3, 2009

Students: Beware of classifieds rental scams



iNetGiant online classifieds community would like to warn post-secondary students about rental scams while looking for a place to live for the new school semester.

The scam typically involves online classifieds sites like iNetGiant where numerous listings show fully furnished condos and apartments in prime central locations with incredible prices.

After sending an e-mail to express interest in the rental, consumers receive a strange reply that says the landlord is in Africa doing missionary work but the prospective renters could courier the keys if sent a security deposit.

This is a perfect time for this type of scam to flourish.  We all know that students are all busy trying to secure affordable housing and this scarcity carves out an opportunity for scammers. These online ads will often even have bogus pictures of the suite, which make it look legitimate. However, if a landlord says to wire or courier money offshore then the alarm bells should be going off.

iNetGiant online classifieds community offers the following advice to would-be renters:

• Meet the person and visit the property first. Do not send money to a person you have never met to reserve a place you have never seen. Go to the rental suite and visit it in-person.

• Use listings that provide real landlord contact information. There are websites like viewit.ca or gottarent.com that record a landlord's address and bank information. This can provide more assurances of avoiding this scam.

• If it is a scam, report it to us and contact police or Phonebusters.com (RCMP phone line) so they can keep track of cases.