Police said many of these scams originate on social media or classified ad websites. Rental properties are being listed not from a property management company and are usually listed as "for rent by owner."
The biggest red flag to watch out for is that all communications and paperwork will not be done in person, even "written leases."
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Scammers will often ask potential renters to send rent or deposit money through PayPal or another cash app and by mail, often before any paperwork is provided.
To protect yourself, police said, try to rent through a licensed property management company. If renting directly from a homeowner, ask to have personal contact (while abiding by current COVID-19 safety guidelines), and follow-up through the Cumberland County Tax Administration to confirm proper ownership.
Other tips to identify a scam:
- They do not want, or are unavailable, to meet you in person
- They want you to move in immediately, without ever seeing the property
- They ask you to mail, wire, or use a cash sending app to send money
- The price is too good, or well below fair market value
- The listing has poor grammar, typographical errors, or excessive punctuation
- There is no screening process such as a rental application or credit check