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If it’s too good to be true, it is! Tips to Avoid Rental Scams

The process of finding a home to rent can be a time of high anxiety coupled with impending deadlines. The sheer logistics of finding a new home and subsequent move can be daunting, especially in a hot rental market like Portland, Oregon. In the rush of it all, the red flags of ever more sophisticated and brazen rental scams can be easy to miss.

According to a recent survey by, 43% of renters had encountered or fallen prey to a rental scam. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) there has been an estimated $37 million in losses associated with potential rental scams. Fortunately, it is relatively simple to avoid scammers.

Know the Red Flags:

  • The owner is out of town, and you cannot see the unit in person before sending money.
  • A “for sale” sign in the yard.
  • The alleged owner or property manager asks you to pay through Western Union, MoneyGram, Cash App, or a gift card. No legitimate business gets paid this way.
  • The rent advertised is well below market rates.
  • Emails contain odd phrasing, grammatical, and spelling errors
  • Messages will often profess a strong religious faith, suggesting that they are moral and trustworthy
  • Multiple listings of the same property for different rents

If you think you have found a scam listing:

  • Run a web search for the home’s street address to see if there are multiple listings for the home. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Contact the owner or property manager of the home and let them know about the scam.
  • Submit a claim the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker
  • Contact you local Police Department’s non-emergency line
  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission at gov/complaint or by calling 877-FTC-HELP

Being aware and informed as you look for a new home is your best defense against scammers. Working with a reputable property management company or landlord is the safest way to secure housing for yourself. After all, filing police reports for lost deposits is not a step any of us need in our next move.

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.

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