Thanks to a sky-high housing market in town, lots of folks are renting houses instead. Problem is, some are being scammed in the process with fake housing rental ads. The Barrie Police Service says it has already received reports of this in Barrie, saying ads were placed on sites like Kijiji, advertising a home for rent with a lower than average monthly fee. It generally involves the potential tenant sending a deposit for good faith, being told the keys would be mailed or dropped off at the house. Usually, the tenant shows up to the home to discover someone else already lives there, if the house even exists at all. Police say no one has reported losing money to this scam..
How to Protect Yourself:
- When searching for rentals, go to the address. Schedule a showing and confirm its availability. Driving by is not enough to confirm a house is available for rent.
- Request a lease/contract. Review it thoroughly. Do your best to confirm information provided on the lease including landlord information.
- Complete open source searches on rental addresses to ensure it’s not a duplicate post. Previous sale or expired rental ads may be a sign of a scam. If recently listed as for sale, contact the listing agent to cross reference the details you have.
- Know the market. If similar houses are listed for substantially higher than the ad you are reading, there is a chance it is fraudulent.
- Do not send funds to strangers. E-transfers and Money Transfers can end up anywhere in the world and are hard to track.
- Contact Equifax and Transunion if you’ve provided sensitive information on applications.
- Go with your gut. If it seems fishy it probably is. Too good to be true is often that, too good to be true.
More information on real estate and rental scams can be found on the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center website.