Rental scam

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Video transcript: Rental scam (Word, 27KB)

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How the scam works

Scammers advertise rental properties on well-known property websites. When you express interest, they say they are overseas or interstate and that you must conduct the transaction online.

Also, scammers may show you through a property, when they have no right to rent it to you.

The scammers may try to appear genuine by providing photos, real addresses of properties, land title deeds and even scans of stolen passports. They scam you by asking for a month’s bond and rent to secure the property. If you pay by money transfer, there is very little chance of recovering your money.

Scammers may also ask for personal details such as bank and credit card numbers and driver’s licence details, which they use for credit card and identify fraud.

Protect yourself:

  • If possible, verify the identity of the person you are dealing with. For example, if they say they work for an established estate agency, you could contact the agency to confirm you are dealing with their representative.
  • If the property owner offers ongoing excuses about why you cannot view the property in person - such as them being overseas – be wary.
  • Avoid paying via money transfer services, or making a payment directly into a bank account, because these methods may be less secure than using BPAY.
  • If you are paying a bond for a Victorian property, it's best to pay via a money order or bank cheque made out to the Residential Tenancy Bond Authority (RTBA).
  • Do an internet search with images from the advertising, to check they haven’t been copied from another site. You can use image search websites such as Google images or TinEye.