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Fraud and Scams for Renters

Fraud Awareness Tips for Renters

While the vast majority of apartment listings on are legitimate, you should be aware that certain individuals post rental listings on for the sole purpose of scamming potential renters.

When using the Internet, you should always exercise caution and common sense. When using the web site, you can help protect yourself by learning more about how the service operates and taking the precautions outlined below. If an activity seems suspicious or a transaction seems unbelievably good, you should beware.

Deceptive E-Mails and Claims merely acts as forum in which potential renters can search listings of apartments for rent and contact landlords to discuss the specifics of the apartment, arrange for a showing, and/or possibly enter into an agreement to lease the apartment. All transactions are between renters and landlords. Be aware that never participates in transactions between renters and landlords. Specifically, we do not lease apartments or collect payments or deposits for rental properties. Finally, given the nature of our service, you should be aware that we do not and cannot verify the authenticity or legitimacy of any renter, landlord or property advertised for rent.


Advice for Renters

  • Avoid ads that are "too good to be true." Ads for apartments in big cities such as Edmonton with rents significantly below market value are almost always lures used by scam artists. Check other listings in the general area and see what the going rates for apartments are before responding.
  • Always see the apartment in person before sending any money or providing personal information such as your social security number, even if it's just to fill out an application. Under no circumstances should you do business with an overseas landlord unless you have personally verified their identity and that they actually own the apartment advertised.
  • Dealing locally is best. The safest way to deal is in person and face to face. Be wary if the prospective landlord only wants to communicate via e-mail. Be more wary if the landlord is currently out of the country or resides overseas or far from where the apartment is located. Be extremely wary if the landlord flat out refuses to talk on the phone or claims they cannot talk on the phone.
  • Exercise extreme caution before wiring deposits or rent payments using Western Union or MoneyGram, especially to foreign countries. Sending money in any form overseas will likely result in losing all of it. Western Union and MoneyGram are very popular for Internet scams because the funds are available instantly, untraceably and worldwide.
  • Scan any attachments from landlords with anti-virus software before opening. One of the latest scams involves a "landlord" e-mailing an unsuspecting renter additional photos of the apartment for lease. However, one or more of the e-mail attachments contains a virus that can fool your Web browser to make it appear as though you're going to a legitimate site but in fact are being sent to a site controlled by the scammer. The best way to protect yourself is by using commercial anti-virus software, keeping it up to date and by scanning all e-mail attachments before opening or double-clicking them. Commercial Web-based e-mail services such as Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail provide virus-scanning services free of charge.

Who should I notify about fraud or scam attempts?