Avoid Scams and Fraud
The convenience of shopping online brings with it a heightened risk of scams and fraud. You should always be mindful and vigilant before providing anyone your personal information or sending payment of any kind. We work hard to provide our users with the freshest and most comprehensive library of rental listings, but fraudsters are also working to scam you out of your hard earned money. When we work together, we can take steps to make our online marketplaces the safest they can be. Be aware we do not participate in any rental transactions and cannot refund your money if you are scammed. While we work around the clock to ensure that you have a positive experience using our site, we cannot guarantee that our sites are 100% free from false or fraudulent listings.|
- Apply a CoStar Verified® Badge to listings submitted by known property management companies;
- Warn users when they are viewing the listing details for listings that have not yet been verified;
- Immediately review and remove listings that are reported as suspicious, if appropriate;
- Fully and transparently support law enforcement investigations of listings fraud; and
- Independently investigate suspicious and fraudulent listings and pursue legal action where proper.
- Look out for scams. Here are some of the most common red flags:
- Rent offered below market. Scammers know that innocent renters will be less cautious if they are motivated to close quickly on a deal so they don’t lose out on something too good to be true.
- Request to wire money. Legitimate landlords do not ask renters to wire money to any account, especially an account located abroad. Nor do they ask for money by Western Union, MoneyGram or other money transfer service.
- Request to use another listing service or escrow account to transfer money. Scammers may impersonate legitimate listings services, like AirBnB or HomeAway, or request that money is sent to an escrow account to make renters believe they are dealing with a legitimate entity.
- Claim of affiliation with us. Scammers may impersonate Apartments.com or Apartment Finder to make it seem like we participate in the lease transaction or transfer of funds. We do not participate in any transactions between landlords and renters, and we will never ask you for money to use our site or any of our services.
- Dramatic landlord story. The landlord has received a job assignment abroad and must rent the unit ASAP. You are invited to drive by the building, but no one can show it to you because everyone is already living abroad. And you need to commit in the next 24 hours because dozens of people are waiting to sign the lease. A legitimate landlord will meet you in person and allow you to tour the property before asking for a deposit to secure the rental.
- Can’t or won’t meet in person. For whatever reason, the landlord/agent refuses to meet you in person at the property. They may even send you an access code to unlock an electronic lockbox to gain entry by yourself to the house, condo or apartment you are looking to rent.
- Report scams immediately and with as much detail as possible (including copies of the communications with the scammer and money transfer details) to:
- Us by marking the listing as Suspicious on the site and calling 888-658-7368 x2 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- Your local police department
- The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
- The Federal Trade Commission
- If you sent money by Western Union or Money Gram, those vendors’ customer service departments may be able to stop the transfer:
Review these real life examples of rental listings scams and make sure it doesn’t happen to you:
- Sender from email@example.com impersonates Apartments.com to get money wired to bank in Poland on behalf of landlord identified as “Dr. Ing. Manfred Adam Georg Heeb” in Germany with email address of firstname.lastname@example.org
- Fake owner allegedly located in the UK provides overly detailed story on why the unit is available and why she does not live in the U.S.:
- Landlord who cannot deal face to face because he lives in the UK says Airbnb agent will hold a refundable deposit and give renter an opportunity to inspect the apartment: