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Are you moving to a new location? Set yourself up for success by guarding against fraudsters. If you’re in the market for a rental property, here’s what you need to know to avoid becoming a victim of rental property scammers.

What to Watch For

It pays to know that there are fraudulent or misleading listings and agents out there before searching for a rental unit. Scammers use a variety of tricks and tactics to steal money from unsuspecting renters, such as:

  • Posting ads on websites for rental properties that don’t actually exist or for properties that are already rented by someone else.
  • Promising military discounts and other incentives when they’re not available.
  • Requesting that you wire money for the application fee, security deposit—even the first month’s rent—before you even see the property.
  • Stealing real ads and changing the email address or contact information and then posting those listings on a different website.
  • Posing as legitimate rental agents and using stolen keys to gain access to properties.

How to Recognize a Scam

Want to know what to watch for? Here are five tips from the Federal Trade Commission to help you spot a rental property scam:

  1. Search online for the name of the rental company plus words like "review," "complaint" or "scam." If you find negative comments, consider choosing a different company and/or property.
  2. Visit the rental unit and ask to see the agent's photo ID badge. They should have identification supplied by the property owner or manager.
  3. Listings can appear on rental company sites and online services like Craigslist®, Trulia® and Zillow®. If you see a rental on an online listing service, search the address to make sure it also appears on the rental company’s website. If not, it could be a fake.
  4. Look for signs at the rental property with the name of the owner or manager. Then call the company before signing a lease or making a deposit.
  5. If someone asks you to pay with cash, wire transfers or gift cards, it's a red flag.

If you suspect you have been a victim of rental property fraud, call Navy Federal 24/7 at 1-888-842-6328. Visit Navy Federal’s Security Center to learn more about guarding against fraud.


This article is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.