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Finding an apartment or house to rent that’s safe, affordable, and near amenities you want can be hard for anyone. Folks in the LGBTQ+ community often use community groups on social media to find housing rentals, and people often assume that what’s posted is vetted and safe for community members. But scammers post in these groups, too. Here are ways to spot and avoid rental scams.

We’ve heard about these rental scams happening two ways: scammers use legitimate rental listings but claim to be the landlord (but they’re not), or they make up listings for places that either aren’t for rent or don’t actually exist. Whether they use a real address with real pictures or make something up, it can be hard to spot a scam listing — especially if you’re coming from outside the area. In both cases, the scammer will rush you into paying an application fee, deposit, and/or first month’s rent, and promise to get you the keys right away — but instead, they’ll disappear. And you’ll be left without your money and with no place to move into.

To avoid rental scams:

  • Search online for the rental’s address, plus the name of the property owner or rental company listed. Do other ads come up for the same address? Maybe with a different owner or rental company name? Those are signs of a scam.
  • Check out the rental company. Search their website to see if the property is listed there, too. If it isn’t, the ad you found may be a scam.
  • Don’t pay for a property you’ve never seen. And never pay someone you’ve never met in person. If you can’t see the apartment or sign a lease before you pay, see if a friend can see it for you, or keep looking.

Also, nobody legit will ever say you can only pay by wire transfergift card, or cryptocurrency. That’s a sure sign of a scam.

Spot a rental scam? Report it to the FTC at

Can’t see the apartment or sign a lease before renting? That may be a scam.
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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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Linda Jo Reil
March 21, 2024

Glad I read this!

Alice Diamond
March 21, 2024

Great article, Ari!

Jim Marsden
March 21, 2024

Here's another wrinkle: My wife saw on Facebook a listing for an apartment in Rhode Island in a nice-looking home for a really reasonable rent. She answered the ad and a woman claiming to be the owner told her to apply right away as she needed to rent the place soon. She said an application fee of just $39 fee was the first step, payable through PayPal. One odd direction: please select the type of payment as Friend or Family. That should have been a red flag, but my wife did as asked. Then the supposed owner asked for a second fee for the spouse. My wife told me then about all this, and I said wait, tell her you need to discuss first.

I googled the name provided for the PayPal already sent and the only hit was a person in an African country. Oh no, I told my wife, tell her you can't continue and ask for the $39 back. No reply, of course. When I check the Facebook listing again, a viewer had posted a one-word comment: "scam." At least we were out just the $39, but I'm sure more fees would have been raised if we had continued. And sending a PayPal payment as Friend or Family is not refundable!

March 21, 2024

I was looking for a place for rent on Trulia and I was contacted by a text from someone who claimed that they owned the property. The phone number was from a far away state, she said right away to me that I could move in but had to pay her first! I asked her which apartment it was and all she said was that she owned the house! I was confused cuz she didn’t know the address but that she owned it. I gave her the address I was looking at and she said oh yes that’s the one, I definitely knew it was a scam because I asked her to call me and she said ok on the text but I never received a call! So I texted her back and told her she was a scammer! I never heard from her again, plus the address I gave her was for a rental property that were apartments not a house and I knew the property management! So people should always look at the property first and make sure it’s totally legit! Do your research!!!!

March 25, 2024

Last year, I had a friend get taken by a scammer. She saw the rental house in person and lived about an hour away. Called the published number and the fraudster wanted her to wire him $2000. I kept telling her to go back to the house and talk to neighbors. She didn't and sent the con man $2000!! Of course she lost it. DO YOUR Homework first!

May 23, 2024

Not sure why you say LGB+ as it doesn't only effect them. It effects everyone.