June 18, 2016

Public Service Announcement About Craigslist Rental Scams In Omaha Nebraska Metro Area

Welcome to Heeran’s Home Team Video blog!  We are here to keep you informed with tips, education, and information about pertinent real estate matters.

During my years of working in the Omaha Metro real estate market, I’ve had many calls from unsuspecting people to verify that the rental ad that I put in Craigslist is legitimate.  My answer has always been “no.”  These are the folks who actually took the time to research the home and realized from my website that I was the listing agent.  But what about the countless others who didn’t do their research.  They are sending private confidential information about themselves including date of birth, social security numbers, phone numbers, and email addresses to these crooks.  People are also sending them application fees, security deposits, etc via cashier’s checks and wire transfers of which they will never see one penny back.  For some reason, this year the calls have multiplied.  It takes just as much effort to do good in this world as it does for bad.  Are there no other ways to earn a clean living versus scamming people out of their hard earned money? 

I’m writing this blog as a public service announcement.  Please share with everyone you know.  It’s unbelievable how legitimate these scammed ads sound.  There is no reason why these scammers would continue to put out these fake ads week after week if they didn’t work.  There are people all over the country including our friends and family here in Nebraska who are wiring and mailing cashier’s checks to these low lifes.  Below are some tips on how to avoid these phony “House For Rent” or “Apartment For Rent” ads.
  1. Deals sound too good to be true-If you know that a certain type of house or neighborhood should go for $1,295 per month and there’s an ad for a home that will rent for $895 per month, it may be a scam.  This is how the scammers lure prospective renters to open up their wallet and provide private/confidential information. If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.
  2. Too many upfront requests-The necessity to wire  money upfront is a red flag.  In addition, if they ask you for too much of your personal information upfront especially if it’s required before you even get to see the property, that is also a red flag.
  3. Do an onsite tour of the property-Never send money to anyone for a property you haven’t seen in person.  If you can’t be there, ask a trusted friend or family member who can.  You’ll want to verify that what was advertised is truly what is being offered.  Deal with local people that you can meet in person and ask to see their identification. 
  4. Look for suspicious looking ads-Are there many misspellings in the ad?  Do you see references to other countries?  Do you see words like “Sir” “Madam”?  These are all red flags.
  5. Do your research on the owner-Go to the register of deeds website for the county where the property is located at and type in the address.  You can quickly find the name of the actual owner and then look for their phone numbers in the public records.  http://www.Zabasearch.com or http://dexknows.whitepages.comare a couple sites you can go to.  Then call the owner to see if they are truly renting their homes.
  6. Weird Story-You may read a long winded story about why the property is for rent.  Maybe it states that the owner has some emergency and needs to rent the property asap.  Maybe it states that it’s owned by someone out of state and the home is “bleeding” them and they really need to rent it for whatever they can get.  Weird Story=Red Flag.
  7. Pay it forward-If you do see an ad and you determine it is a scam, help the other prospective renters by marking it as prohibited on Craigslist.  You’ll see the “prohibited” checkbox next to the reply button.  Protect yourself-protect your family and friends.  
There are many legitimate house and apartment for rent ads in Craigslist.  Unfortunately, there are many scams out there as well so please be careful.  If you are interested in renting a home, please call (402) 318-SOLD (7653) and I will get you in touch with reputable property management companies as well as real estate landlords who have homes for rent or rent to own.  To prevent at least one person in your network who may become a victim, share this post. 

If you or someone you know are thinking about buying, selling, or building a home in the Omaha Metro area, call (402) 318-SOLD for a free consultation. Take care and have a great week.

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By: Heeran Workman, MBA, Realtor - REMAX PLATINUM Omaha