As Rent Relay’s electronic rent service becomes more popular, we’re pleased to see a spike in client inquiries. However, we’ve found out that our company’s name has been used in a Craigslist and Kijiji rental scam. We wanted to quickly provide this post to help the public become aware of the risk and protect themselves against rental property fraud.
The shell game starts with a new online classified ad for a rental that seems legitimate. After the potential tenant sends an email inquiry to the landlord, the fraudsters will ask them to wire money before Rent Relay will release keys to them. Rent Relay is strictly an electronic rent payment processor. We never engage in any property management activities such as showings or key deliveries. Anyone who suggests otherwise is lying.
Our clients are landlords and property managers who have been thoroughly vetted for property authorization and identification verification before they can begin to use our electronic rent payment service. Additionally, we take extra steps to preserve the confidentiality of personal information. We take great pride in providing these extra layers of security to all parties
Security Tips for Renters
1. Deal locally. Be wary of out-of-country landlords who only communicate by email. You should be concerned if he or she cannot show you the property before requiring you to sign a lease, will not speak to you on the phone. Requests to wire money either directly to a bank account, or overseas using Western Union or Moneygram are also red flags. These types of transactions are irreversible – you will not be refunded your money.
2. See the property in person. Before sharing personal information or providing payment, you should view the inside of the rental to confirm suitability, verify the identity of the landlord/property manager, and confirm that he or she has authority to rent the apartment.
3. Beware of ads that are “Too Good to be True”. Avoid ads that are showing prime properties with rents that are significantly below market value.
4. Scan all emails sent by the prospective landlord with a virus checker before opening them. They may have a virus that will send you to a phishing website or worse.
How to report Rental Property Listing Fraud
If you see a rental property ad online, or have communicated with a landlord that suggests Rent Relay will be collecting rents/deposits prior to a showing or release of keys, please forward all email communication to firstname.lastname@example.org. We have been in communication with law enforcement about this issue, and will continue to be vigilant in protecting both landlords and tenants.
If you wish to verify that a landlord/property manager is registered with our system, please email email@example.com the name and contact information of the landlord, and we will confirm the details with you. Details of fraud attempts are posted on our Facebook page. Visit http://www.facebook.com/rentrelay for more details.
You can also contact the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre or your local RCMP detachment for fraud reporting. Thank you for your attention.