ARKANSAS, USA — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is urging Arkansans to be on the lookout for rental scams when looking into housing online.
The rental market demand has continued to increase throughout the state and rental scams are growing with it as scammers collect money and personal information.
“I encourage everyone to be wary of a rental transaction that seems too good to be true because scammers and con-artists will stop at nothing to rip off hard-working Arkansans,” said Rutledge. “I will always fight back against scammers and con-artists who try to take advantage of Arkansans."
Officials say scammers tend to use photos of existing online real estate listings and repost them on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace and similar sites with attractive prices. The communications will normally take place via text or via email. Rutledge says scammers lead interested individuals to complete rental applications that include personal information such as date of birth and social security numbers. Renters will then shortly receive approval and be asked for a security deposit. These are typically made via money transfer apps even before the renter has seen the property.
Rutledge recommends consumers to report rental scam listings, to local law enforcement and also report it to the website where the advertisement is posted and to the Attorney General's office.
Here are some helpful tips on how to identify rental scams:
- Do an online search of the rental company to identify any reviews or complaints.
- Rental home listings are often on several online listing services like Zillow, Trulia, or Craigslist. If you see a rental company’s listing on one of those online listing services, do a search of the home’s address to make sure it appears on the rental company’s website. If it does not, it may be a scam.
- It could be a red flag if the advertised rent is considerably less than comparable rentals in the area.
- Rental agents should have photo ID badges issued by the company that owns or manages the property.
- Apply through the rental company, licensed real estate professional, or listing website.
- Before you sign a lease, look for signs at the property with the name of the property owner or manager.
- Ask to tour the property in person.
- Never pay with cash, wire transfers, gift cards, or other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. If anyone tells you to pay this way, it is a sure sign of a scam.
If you think you have been a victim of a rental scam you can call 1-800-482-8982. For more information on consumer-related topics and tips on how to avoid scams, visit ArkansasAG.gov.