- Don’t send a deposit without seeing/visiting the property
The biggest flag is a request to send a deposit without seeing the place you are going to be living in. Even during covid, there are safe ways to visit a prospective rental property – which is still allowed under stay-at-home orders. If the property owner isn’t willing to work with you in this regard, that could be cause for concern.
If the landlord keeps making excuses as to why you can’t see the property or canceling all the time that’s a sign something is wrong.
- Ask the landlord for references
As a prospective renter, you can ask for a reference for a Landlord. This is somewhat unusual, but you can ask for the current (or most recent) tenant’s information to make an inquiry about the landlord — how quickly do they respond, are they approachable, etc.
- Keep records of all communication with landlords
Keep records of all communication with the landlord, whether it is through email, text message, etc. Also, keep copies of all banking documents both physical and electronic. It never hurts to be organized.
- Google the address and the person renting you the property
Many fraudsters take photos off the internet, as many of the properties involved in these frauds are currently for sale or were recently sold. There are sites (House Sigma) where you can see properties that have recently sold. If your potential rental is shown as a recently sold property, it may be a fraud.
You should also search the name of the person on Google or Facebook. Others that have been scammed may have posted about their experiences.
If you have encountered a fraud attempt, but have not lost any money or personal information, please report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. If you have lost money through fraud, contact the Barrie Police Service Fraud Unit at 705-725-7025.