Have you ever been browsing through the California Gold Country Craigslist rental ads and get really excited because you come across a house that is super cheap, big and beautiful, and has easy move-in terms? Well, chances are, it’s probably too good to be true. Scammers will try anything to steal your money. Whether the scammer is overseas or right here in Grass Valley or Nevada City, California, don’t let it happen to you. Be Internet savvy and know how to detect a scam from a mile away.
The California Bureau of Real Estate (Cal BRE) issued an informative publication in October 2013 titled: Warning Regarding Online Rental Schemes. This publication points out some very good things to keep in mind when searching for rental listings online at various sources including, but not limited to: Craigslist, Zillow, Trulia, and Hotpads.
A few of the publication highlights include:
- Most scammers “duplicates or ‘hijack’ an actual listing of a property that is for rent.” They advertise rentals at lower prices and often promote easy move-in terms. They are never available to meet you in person.
- “The perpetrators do not own the properties (although they often times pretend to be the owners) and they are not authorized or licensed to rent the properties”
- “In most of these cases, the scammers collect money (usually via wire transfer) from the victims for deposits, fees and rents, and in a number of the cases obtain enough personal information, such as social security, driver license and bank account numbers, to steal the identities of the ‘renter’ victims.”
So how do you stop these scammers from stealing your money? Well, you really can’t stop them, but you can do a few things to make sure you’re not dealing with a scammer. The Cal BRE’s publication suggests the following:
- “Confirm or verify the identity of the supposed landlord or property agent.” To see who owns the property, you can call the Nevada County Assessor’s Office at 530.265.1232. Or, if the ad is claiming a local Nevada County property management company has listed the property, call that company to get the “real” specs.
- Never rent a property without viewing it in person first!
- Never wire money without meeting the owner or agent of the property first!
- When in doubt, consult with a Licensed Real Estate Broker. Barrett Property Management of Nevada and Placer Counties is here to help! Call us anytime and we will be glad to help you find a “real” rental in Grass Valley, Nevada City, Auburn, or Colfax!