Scam Alert written on the road.jpegAlthough the Internet has opened us up to a wide range of property listings and housing opportunities, it has also made it easier for scammers to find their next victim. With open sites such as Craigslist, fake agents can easily falsify information and attack us where it hurts the most. In today’s market, finding a place to call home can be a stressful journey, so don’t make it any harder on yourself. Whether you're renting or buying a new home, check out these common scams to avoid being a scammer’s next target.

Online Property Scams

According to the National Association of Realtors, 90 percent of consumers turn to the Internet as their first stop for house hunting. Scammers are taking advantage of this fact and targeting this audience. They will find a legitimate posting from a property site, scrape the listing, and re-post it on another site, posing as the agent that is representing the listing. They usually lower the price to entice you to make a decision as soon as possible. These scammers will then tell you that time is running out and ask for proof of funds or fake application fees for credit checks prior to viewing the home. However, they will simply take your money and you will never hear from them again.

So, what should you do? Sometimes, things are simply too good to be true. If you find a property listing that is a lot lower than other similar listings, then do your research. Google the listing and see if you can find it elsewhere. This can help you determine if it was scrapped by a scammer. Also, never give any of your personal or bank information out online or over the phone. Do everything in person and be sure to ask for a tour of the property.

Loan Modification Scams

With many Americans facing foreclosure, scammers have become to target vulnerable borrowers. Some of these awful scams include fake foreclosure counseling, false loan auditing, fake reverse mortgage loans, and other fraudulent loan modification programs. The scammer will usually call you, pretending to be a firm that can help you find a solution to your foreclosure problems, such as reduced mortgage payments or becoming part of a mass lawsuit. Although they may sound like they know what they are talking about, they are simply looking for access to your bank information.

To avoid being tricked by these scammers, watch out for anyone requesting an advanced fee or suggesting that you redirect payments away from your mortgage company. Also, be wary of overconfident agents who are guaranteeing 100 percent protection from foreclosure.

Property Course Scams

Some of us want to learn more about the market and property investment. However, you should do your research when settling on a course or seminar. Once again, scammers are targeting the vulnerable and creating phony property investment seminars or courses in order to make money. These classes promise to help you and ask for attendance fees prior to your course. However, you either never receive any further information about the course or are sent to a location that does not exist.

To avoid this situation, it is important to do your research and only pick courses that are taught by registered and known institutions. Also, many of these scammers will ask you to sign a release form that prevents you from taking legal action against the workshop, seminar, or course. This is a huge red flag and shows that the company is hiding something.

Looking for a new home can be a stressful time. However, you shouldn’t let this cloud your judgement. Do your research and be careful so that scammers don’t take advantage of you.

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Sally Collins

Sally Collins

Sally Collins is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family and traveling as much as possible.