PENNSYLVANIA — Attorney General Michelle Henry is warning Pennsylvanians in the market for rental properties to be aware of sophisticated scammers placing fake ads and altering existing, legitimate ads to obtain personal information, security deposits, and rent payments.
Scammers take ads from legitimate rental companies or real estate listings and alter the ad by changing the contact information, or hacking the actual realtor’s email account. Some scammers place ads for properties not on the market.
Scammers can then obtain personal information from an interested consumer during the “application process” and they may even illegally collect payments.
“We are approaching summertime and that means college students heading to school in the fall will need to make living arrangements, so beware of these fraudulent listings that appear to be the real thing,” Attorney General Henry said. “If a landlord refuses to meet in person and show the property, that is usually a strong indicator of a scam.”
Protect yourself by:
- Being wary if you cannot physically see the property.
- Confirming with whom you are dealing.
- Not wiring payments for application, security deposit, or first month’s rent.
- Not purchasing gift cards for payment.
- Not providing your Social Security number without verifying with whom you are dealing.
Consumers with any questions or feel that they have been victimized by this scam may submit a complaint with the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection by visiting https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/submit-a-complaint/scams-complaint/, by emailing email@example.com or by calling the office at 1-800-441-2555.