Consumer Alert: Is that rental listing real? Beware of online rental scams

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HONOLULU (KHON2) – If you’re searching for a place to rent, beware of rental scams that could steal your money and leave you without a place to stay.

It’s a scam where thieves take photos of a property off a legitimate website and use the pictures in a fake rental ad.

“You immediately contact that person and then that dialogue begins,” said Roseann Freitas, Better Business Bureau of Hawaii Marketplace Manager. “Once you start to ask too many questions you begin to suspect something, that person can never meet you at the site, they can’t show it to you.”

Once the scammer reels you in, they’ll ask you to deposit money.

“They’ll ask you to pay it like wire transfer or gift cards, anything but a credit card,” said Freitas.

Freitas says unfortunately rental scams are common. If you suspect a fake rental listing there are few ways to proofread the offer.

“You can Google the image. So you take that image you google it and you see if it lives somewhere else on the internet and a lot of the times that picture will pop up and you’ll see that house isn’t really there and it’s been listed many times,” Freitas said.

Other red flags to look out for are listings that are too good to be true. Freitas also suggests doing a search of the address in the offer.

“Make sure it really is a house, make sure it’s the same house and see if the names match up the owner of record matches the person who’s doing the listing,” said Freitas.

For more information on rental scams, click here. If you have fallen victim to a rental scam, you can report it to the BBB Scam Tracker.

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