Be Careful of these Common Scams

Use caution when you create roommate and sublet ads online. The storylines will differ but in general a scammer might contact you about your roommate or sublet ad in an attempt to steal your money and commit fraud.

Common Rental Scam Scenario:

  • You are emailed about your ad and asked to provide information about the property, including price.
  • The individual also might ask for your personal information, like your full name, address, and bank account number.
  • The individual will send you a certified check or money order to cover rent and/or security deposit.
  • The check will be more than the amount required under the lease or sublease.
  • The individual asks you send the excess money back to him/her.
  • You send the money back but the individual's check bounces, leaving you without your money.

Warning Signs:

  • The individual is eager to send you money for the apartment/room without seeing it, talking to your roommates, or talking to your landlord.
  • You receive a certified check or money order for more than the amount that you agreed upon with the subtenant.
  • You are asked to wire funds or send money orders to the subtenant.
  • The subtenant is not willing to provide basic identifying information, including a copy of license, SSN, references and credit reports.
  • The subtenant asks you to handle the sublease without informing your landlord (this is done to sidestep the background check process).

How to Protect Yourself:

  • Deal locally with the person, and actually meet them. Avoid individuals that claim they cannot meet you in-person, or say someone else will meet you instead.
  • Don’t wire funds and avoid cashier’s checks. Any mention of money, money orders, cashier’s checks, wire transfers, or bank accounts in the first email is very suspicious.
  • Check the individual's references (like past landlords or employers). Do a Google search on the person's name and email and see if it has been used in past scams.
  • Ask the individual for his or her phone number, full name, and employer verification. If the individual becomes angry or won't give you information, it's probably a scam. Stop communicating with the individual.
  • Refuse over-payment.
  • Do not share your personal information unless you’ve confirmed the individual’s name and personal information.

Be wary of these contacts:

For more information about common rental scams, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information page.