Homeowner shocked to find home online for rent

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A homeowner on 1st Avenue in Delhi received a knock on their door Wednesday evening by a complete stranger wanting to rent their home.

The homeowner learned their residence had been listed online for about $1,600 a month. The listing included their name, phone number and email address.

As a result, police were contacted just before 6 p.m. on Sept. 30.

Norfolk OPP are reminding all residents to be vigilant when responding to ads on various websites. Whether you are renting or buying, it is important to protect yourself from fraud and scams. In general, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

“If we can eliminate the economic incentives for scammers, we can eliminate their behaviour completely. Renters, property managers, owners, and agents all need to continually stay educated on the various rental scams that are occurring in our community,”  Norfolk OPP Inspector Joseph Varga said in a press release.

Finding a place to rent may be as easy as walking through a neighbourhood that interests you looking for “for rent” signs, or reading your local classifieds.

Police have provided the following information:

Advice for Renters

  • Avoid ads that are too good to be true. Ads for apartments or houses 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 and houses before responding.
  • Always see the apartment or house in person before sending any money or providing personal information such as your social insurance 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 or home 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 or house 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 a money transfer service, especially to foreign countries. Sending money in any form overseas will likely result in losing all of it. Money transfers 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 an anti-virus software, keeping it up to date and by scanning all e-mail attachments before opening or double-clicking them.

Tips for landlords

  • Do they only communicate via email? Police suggest being very cautious when dealing with someone you only have contact with via the Internet.
  • Verify payments. If you are considering renting to someone who sends advance payment, ensure that their payment is good with your bank.
  • Excess payments. Never wire or transfer excess funds to anyone.
  • Caution during student rental season. Fraud becomes more prevalent near the end of a term at university or college when students are attempting to sublet their apartments. Be extra cautious at this time.