FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron issued a consumer alert on Friday, warning Kentuckians of a property listing scam that is currently making the rounds in the state and elsewhere.
With housing demand outpacing supply in many communities, the Office of Consumer Protection says scammers are altering property listings in order to take advantage of Kentuckians seeking rental housing.
Cameron’s office has received reports of scammers who are impersonating real estate agents or property owners. In these schemes, the scammer alters a property listing made by a legitimate agency or owner by listing it as a rental home on a social media or classified advertisement platform under their name and contact information.
Once a consumer expresses interest in the property, the scammer often claims they cannot provide a walkthrough due to health concerns related to COVID-19 and asks the consumer to make a security deposit before viewing the rental. Scammers typically request payment through an online platform, or peer-to-peer payment applications.
“In this tight housing market, Kentuckians should be on guard for scammers who post property listings that don’t belong to them in order to collect deposits,” Cameron stated. “We encourage anyone who encounters a possible scam to report it immediately to our office by visiting ag.ky.gov/scams or by calling 1-888-432-9257.”
Before renting a property, Attorney General Cameron urges Kentuckians to follow these tips:
--Visit the property before paying a security deposit or signing a lease. If a rental isn’t available for an in-person walkthrough, don’t rent the property. Also, be sure to view a rental before paying a security deposit or signing a lease.
--Watch out for odd payment requests. Avoid dealing with companies or individuals who require payment through wired funds, gift cards, online payment platforms like PayPal, or peer-to-peer payment apps like Cash App or Venmo.
--Research the owner and listing. Search online to ensure the property is available for rent and confirm the company and contact information matches the rental advertisement posted on other platforms.
--Watch out for poor grammar. Beware of poorly written rental descriptions that include misspellings.
--Work with reputable companies. Avoid renting from companies or individuals who are not available by phone during regular business hours or request to communicate solely through text messages. Visit the Better Business Bureau’s website to review information regarding a company’s reputation.