SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - We are approaching summer - one of the peak rental seasons, and if you're doing an online search for a new place to live, you need to be on guard.
Most of these scams have been around for a while, and unfortunately, people keep falling for them. One study done back in 2016 showed that Craigslist failed to flag more than half the rental scams on its site. It's important to proceed with caution so that you don't become a victim.
While most online rental ads may be legitimate, not all are. One common ruse is where scammers lift pictures of homes they find in legitimate online ads, then post fake ads on pages like Craigslist and other sites and hope to rip off unsuspecting items. The Better Business Bureau says there are ways to spot rental scams and avoid them.
First of all: Don't ever wire money or use a prepaid debit card, never pay a security deposit or first month's rent by prepaid debit card or wire transfer. Once you send it, it's gone. Watch out for deals that sound too good. Scammers lure in targets with super low rents and other perks. You should make sure to see the property in person. Don't send money to someone you've never met for an apartment you haven't seen. Also, ask for an inside tour. Don't fall for the old overseas or out of state landlord story. It's much tougher to trace the thieves if you do send money.
You also want to be very careful about giving out personal information. When the poster asks for things like your driver's license, social security number, or credit card, it should be a real red flag that it could actually be a scam. Don't be a victim.