Today, we are talking about rental scams and how you can protect your property against being used in an online scam. Online rental scams are a sad side effect of today’s online marketplace. So many people are looking for a great home at a fantastic price, and this dream opens up many opportunities for your property to be used in an online scam. These scams are designed to relieve victims of their money, either through upfront credit checks that never actually occur or by gathering personal information to be used in identity theft.
As a property owner, it’s important to safeguard your property against these scams so you can avoid the misrepresentations of that property online. It happens most often on Craigslist and other online sites, and there are a few things you can do to help yourself.
Do a search of your property’s photos. Take a look at one of the photos you have posted with your true, real online ad. Get the URL by right-clicking on the image and then place that URL in a Google browser window. Run a search and if you get a lot of search results with your photo, it’s potentially being used by someone else in an online ad. You can do this same thing with text. Highlight the property address or other text and put those in Google. Run your search and again – if you get results many times, it’s been hijacked and used in other online ads that are not yours.
Look at all the ads you find online for your home. If your property manager’s contact information is not included and there’s some bogus email address, you know this is not a true ad and it needs to be removed.
You can automate these tasks using Google Alerts. By going to Google.com/alerts, you can create an online search engine that auto-responds any time something you choose shows up on the web. Each time someone creates a fake ad, you’ll be notified by email.
Working with a professional property management company dramatically reduces your own chances of being victimized in one of these online rental scams. If you have any questions or you need any help, please contact us at Mainlander Property Management.