With the school year winding down, many students are planning on moving out of college dorms and the Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota is reminding them to do their research to ensure online listings for rental properties are not scams.

President of Minnesota’s Better Business Bureau Susan Adams Loyd.

BBB President Susan Adams Loyd said, “Many people start their search for rental properties online, which is fine so long as a certain amount of skepticism is employed.”

She added, “Watch out for ads with rent listed well below market price or situations where people are only willing to communicate via email or text message.”

Tips from the organization include:

  • Watch out for a deal that sounds too good to be true. Scammers will often list a rental for a very low price to lure in victims.
  • The landlord is located elsewhere and prefers to communicate solely via email. Scammers might say they have just been relocated outside the country for a job or they’re overseas performing missionary work. Don’t believe it!
  • An online listing has grammatical or spelling errors – often a sign the ad may have been created by overseas scammers unfamiliar with the nuances of the English language.
  • You’re asked to wire money through wire transfer services such as Western Union or MoneyGram, or if you’re told the deposit or rent needs to be paid with a Green Dot MoneyPak card. Any money sent via these means is extremely difficult to trace, and there is little chance – if any – of getting your money back.
  • The rental requires a security deposit or first month payment without meeting the landlord, inspecting the property or signing a lease.