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House Hunters Warned to be Cautious of Rental Scam

Couple looking at a real estate listing online.

Are you moving or hunting for your first apartment?  New Brunswickers who are looking to rent, should be aware of a scam that targets individuals searching for their new home.  Fraudsters advertise properties online for rent that they do not own, using information and photos from legitimate real estate listings.

It is suspected that the scam artist is hoping to get money from victims by collecting damage deposits on properties that are not actually available for rent.

This is not the first time that this scam has taken place in the province, and the Financial and Consumer Services Commission wishes to warn New Brunswickers that this activity may be continuing.

Some of the red flags identified in rental scams are:

  • No ability for the potential renter to see the property in person before providing a deposit.
  • Asking the renter to e-transfer a deposit, or meet at a location other than the property, to provide a deposit.
  • Asking the potential renter to ignore the For Sale signs on the property.
  • Spelling errors and typos in the ads.
  • Pressure to act quickly.

New Brunswickers are encouraged to use the following best practices before paying money to secure a rental property:

  • Be aware of the red flags of fraud.
  • Never send money to someone you have never met, or only met online.
  • Before signing a rental agreement and paying a damage deposit, insist on seeing the property. If you are moving from out of province, ask someone you know locally to look at the property for you.
  • Do a reverse image search to determine if the images are shared on other websites.
  • If there is a For Sale sign on the property, contact the listing realtor to inquire if the owner is also seeking to rent the property.
  • If you are entering a rent-to-own situation, seek legal advice before signing a contract.
  • When purchasing or negotiating on sites such as Kijiji, it is always buyer beware. When using sites such as Realtor, you are dealing with licensed agents. Learn more about how licensing can protect you.

“At FCNB, we share information on the red flags of fraud and information about current and common scams that circulate in the province in an effort to help New Brunswickers protect themselves and their communities,” said Alaina Nicholson, Director of Consumer Affairs.

“While scams change and adapt, the red flags tend to be common across different types of scams. The more people can recognize the red flags, think critically about offers and be vigilant, the fewer people will end up being scammed.”

If you suspect that you have been targeted by, or the victim of, a rental fraud scam, contact the police.