BBB explains how to spot a rental scam

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Better Business Bureau is warning people to keep an eye out for fake rental advertisements and keep hold of their money.

A BBB study (PDF) released Tuesday lays out how scammers — many based overseas — create fake rental postings on sites like Craigslist offering what look like amazing deals on properties they don’t own. The scammers ghost prospective renters after getting their money. News 8 has warned you of such scams.

Citing a survey from Apartment List, the BBB said some 5.2 million Americans have fallen victim to a rental scam, losing an average of $400. The BBB said its Scam Tracker got more than 260 reports of rental scams as of October 2019. The median loss from those cases — a much smaller sample — was nearly $1,000.

The BBB said that to keep an eye out for prices that are too good to be true. If a supposed owner or manager won’t take you to see the property before you send them money, it’s likely a scam. The BBB also reminded renters that a legitimate owner won’t ask you to pay via Western Union, MoneyGram or a gift card.

To check out a listing, run the pictures of the property through Google Image Search to make sure they weren’t copied from somewhere else. Search the address and any unusual phrasing in the property description. If you meet an owner or manager at the property, ask to see ID and check them out, too.

If you do get scammed, report it to local police, the Federal Trade Commission, the FBI and and the BBB.

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