Apartment Living BlogApartment Tips › Fraud Prevention Tips

ForRent.com provides advertising for apartment community owners and managers so that you as a prospective renter can learn about their communities. All the information in an advertisement is provided by these owners and managers, as is any information that you might receive from them through any form of communication. We will be using the term “Landlord” as we share these Fraud Prevention Tips with you (by the way, these tips are educational – they are not legal advice from ForRent.com).

FRAUD AWARENESS GUIDELINES

Knowledge and awareness are the best defense to prevent fraud. Online shopping for an apartment is convenient and easy; you may even be able to lease your new apartment home online. Most Landlords are honest, but occasionally an unscrupulous person will use the Internet to attract a victim. Don’t be a victim!

PLEASE BE AWARE THAT FORRENT.COM AND ITS AFFILIATE WEBSITES:

  • WILL NEVER ask you for your password or PIN!
  • WILL NEVER ask you to send us any money for any reason!
  • DO NOT own or rent the apartments or other forms of housing that may be listed on our website.
  • DO NOT evaluate or endorse the apartments or other forms of housing that may be listed on our website.
  • DO NOT participate in transactions between you and Landlords in any way.
  • DO NOT give instructions on how or where to send in payments such as security deposits or rent.
  • DO NOT act in any way as an agent for you or for the Landlord.
  • DO NOT take custody of any keys or act as a clearinghouse for your rental application, security deposit or rent.
  • DO NOT ask you for personal or financial information via email.

GUIDELINES FOR SAFE ONLINE TRANSACTIONS

Send and receive payment safely. Consider these tips in order to send payment to a Landlord or to receive access to an apartment.

  • If a rental offer looks too good to be true, it probably is! Maintain a healthy skepticism.
  • Verify the Landlord’s identity. Do addresses and names match up in public records or directories?
  • Be wary of sublet situations; here at ForRent.com we have heard about scams involving someone posing as a sublessor; you might get keys in exchange for your money, but the apartment you think you have rented may be occupied by a legitimate renter who was not at all a part of the scam.
  • Be cautious of an individual posing as Landlord or sublessor when they are someone outside of the US.
  • If at all possible, do not make a rental decision only from photos. Visit the apartment community!
  • If much of your rental transaction will be online, verify with whom you are dealing. Never go to an apartment community or a Landlord or sublessor via a link in an email. Always go directly to the site, by typing in the URL.
  • Fraud deals often involve wire transfers, overpayment or cashiers checks. Unusual requests involving the transaction may be a signal of a potential scam.
  • Use your best judgment in all transactions
  • Report suspected fraudulent activity (see further information on this below)

USE EMAIL WISELY

Do not send personal or financial information (such as your social security number, credit card number or checking account number) to a Landlord via email. Email communications are not secure.

STAYING SAFE ONLINE

Passwords, PINs, and Usernames

  • Never give out your usernames, passwords or PINs to anyone.
  • Always make sure your usernames, passwords or PINs are a combination of letters and numbers.
  • Change your usernames, passwords or PINs as frequently as you can, and don’t use the same pins or password for different accounts.
  • REMEMBER – ForRent.com (or its affiliated websites) will NEVER ask for your password or PIN.

Email Attachments

  • Be cautious about opening email attachments. Always make sure you scan them with anti-virus software first. Do not click on links within unsolicited email.
  • Do not click links inside an email you do not know is legitimate, even if it is sent from someone you know. Viruses are often hidden in seemingly harmless programs that people share for fun. Because many viruses make use of peoples’ address books, you may receive virus emails from people you know.
  • Contact the sender to make sure the email is legitimate, and scan it carefully. Avoid having email programs set to preview email, as this can open a virus email before you have a chance to scan it.

Payment Methods

  • Be extremely cautious about sending credit card account numbers via email. Requests for you to do so are often scam based.
  • When purchasing from a website (or in the case of a Landlord from whom you are renting), make sure it is a secure site before submitting credit card information. Look for the tiny padlock icon that symbolizes a secure site or the web address starts with “https” (The “s” denotes a secure site).
  • Credit card purchases can usually be disputed with the credit card company if a problem arises.
  • Remember that ForRent.com is never going to ask you for your credit card account information!

Anti-Virus Software/Anti-Spyware and Firewalls

  • Protect your computer by using the most updated versions of anti-virus software to scan your system and e-mail for malicious viruses.
  • Use anti-spyware or adware programs to remove programs that track your Internet activity.
  • Use a firewall to make your computer invisible to outside attackers.
  • A firewall is especially critical if you have your computer on a cable or DSL Internet connection that is constantly connected to the Internet.

Security Updates for Operating Systems/Browsers

  • Make sure to download, and install security updates for all browsers and operating systems in use on your computer frequently.
  • Keeping browser versions up-to-date is critical to computer security, and proper functionality of the latest security elements used in Internet e-commerce.

HOW TO REPORT FRAUD

File a report. File a report at www.ic3.gov with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), and the Bureau of Justice Administration (BJA). IC3 gives victims of cyber crime a convenient and easy-to-use reporting mechanism. IC3 in turn alerts authorities by referring reports to the correct law enforcement or regulatory agencies at the federal, state, local and international level.

Let us know about it. If you receive a suspicious email, report it to ForRent.com immediately. Forward the email to reportfraud@forrent.com. Do not change the subject line or send it as an attachment. Simply forward the suspicious email message to us. We will contact you if we need additional information.

VISIT THE SITES BELOW TO LEARN MORE ABOUT INTERNET FRAUD

Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)

File a complaint

http://www.ic3.gov

Better Business Bureau (BBB)

Be a Smarter Consumer

http://www.bbb.org/council

Tips to Avoid Online Escrow Fraud

http://www.bbb.org/council

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

Consumer Information to Guard Against Fraud

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/consumer.shtm

Western Union

Protect Yourself From Fraud

http://www.westernunion.com

Escrow.com

Important Information About Fraudulent Escrow Sites

https://www.escrow.com/fic/index.asp

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

Fake Seals and Phony Numbers: How Fraudsters Try to Look Legit

http://www.sec.gov/investor/pubs/fakeseals.htm

Looks Too Good To Be True

Website Developed and Maintained by a Joint Federal Law Enforcement and Industry Task Force

http://www.lookstoogoodtobetrue.com

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About :

ForRent.com's own Director of Search Strategies -- search marketing, user experience, analytics -- improving the experience and accessibility for all. @TheBeardOfSEO on Twitter | berto on Google+

COMMENTS

Comments

  1. Angry Tenant says:
    What i want to know is how a business can hire Assistant Mangers and Managers that put evit\ction notices on a renters dorr claiming they owe more money and We paid the full agreement on our contract. This is happening alot in the appartment complex that I live in. Who would I report this to? They seem to be doingthis to alot of people that live here. Park 67 apartments
    • Hello! I apologize you are experiencing these issues. You should go to corporate headquarters and place your complaint there. If multiple people are experiencing the same issues consider going together or placing complaints at the same time to strengthen the impact. Also, talk to management at the property to get their take on how to move forward. Be consistent in your efforts and organized in your approach. Again, I am sorry you and your neighbors are experiencing this. Best of luck in moving forward with resolving this issue!

  2. I used this site to find an apartment closer to work. I found the perfect one and I’m afraid that it was a scam. The listing was for an apartment on SW Morrison in downtown Portland, OR under the name of Kenneth Wilton Mays who said it was managed by Airbnb. I should have known it was too good to be true. I wanted forrent.com to be aware of such a scam and I hope it doesn’t happen to anyone else.
    • Thank you for this information. We will look into it on our end. Please be vigilant in your apartment search. We certainly appreciate this feedback. Thank you Tiana.

  3. Does your program identify fake leads before sending them to a property.  The one I just received is clearly fake (the name is aaa ss at aass@yahoo.com) and messes with our lead tracking. 

    • Hi Vicki!
      ForRent.com has several systems that look to identify fraudulent or spam leads before sending them to the properties on our site. That said, most of them rely on public information (does the email address exist) or behavior on our site (did this person try to contact many apartment communities? Have they varied their contact info, etc), so some will slip through. On a given day we typically filter out 8-10% of guestcard submissions on our site.

      In this particular case, the email address aass@yahoo.com is valid (according to a check against Yahoo’s mail system), the user in question only contacted this single property, and the IP address isn’t seen as abusive. We do generally err on the side of ensuring a potentially “spammy” lead rather than potentially filtering legitimate ones, so items like this sometimes sneak through.

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