Avoiding rental scams & the people out to get you!
Let’s be honest, if you’re out there looking for a new apartment there’s a chance you might come across a scam and not even know it! It’s sad that there are people out there who prey on your emotional vulnerability during your apartment search, but you need to be prepared so this doesn’t happen to you.
Most scams work like this
Most scammers who prey on renters know one thing: it’s tough finding an awesome place to live, especially in super competitive rental markets like Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Boston.
Because it’s tough, we’re often susceptible to listings that are ‘to good to be true.’ These are the types of listings that are in awesome neighborhoods, have beautiful photos, and (here’s the red flag) underpriced.
We pat ourselves on the back for finding such an awesome place, but we know that other renters are also going to find it. We’ve got to move on it, right?
This is where the scam artist begins their dirty work.
The scammer usually requires communication via email, because it’s much easier to hide behind than a phone number that can be tracked.
The scammer tells you that the unit is still occupied, but if you send them a cashier’s check for the first months rent they’ll hold if for you. Ummmm. NO!!!!! NEVER EVER HAND OVER MONEY TO SOMEONE UNTIL YOU’VE SEEN THE UNIT AND MET THEM IN PERSON. And yes, we’re yelling so you can hear it loud and clear :)
If you refuse to send money without seeing the place first, the scammer will usually stop replying to your emails and move on to the next person. This is when you know it’s a scam. 99.9% of property owners want you to come see the place before you ever exchange money or sign a lease. They want to meet you so they can determine if you’ll make a great tenant!
We have an entire team dedicated to pursuing and immediately removing listings that we find suspicious.
Here’s what a suspicious listing typically looks like:
The listing is priced way below anything else in the neighborhood.
Example: Most 1-bedrooms are renting for $1800 in this neighborhood, but the place you’re looking at is $1450 and looks nicer than the other listings in the area.
The property owner insists that you communicate via email and uses poor punctuation and grammar in their messages to you.
The area code of the phone number listed with the rental isn’t in the same city as the rental.
Example: In Los Angeles, the common area codes are ‘310’ and ‘323’ but the phone number on a listing in Los Angeles is ‘616’ which is an area code in Michigan.
You call the phone number and it’s to a VOIP messaging service like Magic Jack or Google, and not a mobile or landline phone number.
Example: Scammers rarely use a landline or mobile phone number because they’re easy to track. Instead they rely on voice-over-IP numbers, which are free, quick to set up, and harder to track.
Here’s what RadPad is doing about scams
We take scams very seriously and have a team dedicated to pursuing incidents of scam, fraud, and abuse on RadPad. We won’t reveal every prevention we take to stop scams before they even come on to RadPad, but let’s just say it’s science.
Anyone who lists a property on RadPad has to verify their phone number using two-step verification, the same technology Google uses for Gmail. If the lister doesn’t verify the pin we provide them using a landline or mobile phone number, their listing never makes it on RadPad.
We take it one step further. Listers who pass two-step verification will also get a call from our team within 48 hours of creating their new listing. We do this for a few reasons: we learn how we can make RadPad better for them, but we’re also able to verify their identity based on data like their drivers license number.
Look for the Verified Badge
Once we’re able to confirm the identity of a lister, we automatically apply a ‘Verified’ badge to all of their listings so that you know they’re legit. Just look for the circle with a check mark in the middle. You can also click the badge and see the ‘Verified Lister’ message so you know it’s real.
Report suspicious listings to RadPad
To report a listing to our team, just click the ‘Hide’ button that appears on all listings on RadPad. We review these flagged listings within hours of them being reported to us.
You can also email our team at firstname.lastname@example.org with info about the suspicious listing and we’ll immediately investigate it. Please include the URL of the listing, address, and price information if you’re able to.
Most importantly use common sense. If it feels too good to be true, it probably is.