Rental Fraud Cases and Safety Concerns Persist
Editor’s Note: Managing Brokers are encouraged to share the following article with their agents.
Late last summer, MIBOR posted information about an ongoing rental scam in which listing information is scraped from online listings and fraudulently promoted as a rental property in an attempt to gain deposit money and/or confidential identity information from consumers. At that time, we produced a video aimed at consumers regarding warning signs. The video, featuring MIBOR member Dan Baldini, was posted to www.mibor.com and promoted to members to increase awareness of the problem. Click here to view.
A new version of this problem has recently emerged. In the last week, we have been alerted to four to five rental fraud situations of an extremely alarming nature. Now beyond just a request for information or funds, some of these reports include a scammer who is asking to meet the potential renter at a listing. In at least two cases, money has been exchanged. There are several cases where the scammer has targeted a vacant home, broken into the lockbox and obtained entrance into the property. WRTV-6 broadcast a story last week about a renter who paid money to a scammer and moved into the property only to later discover it was never a rental. Click here to view.
Many of these scams are halted when the potential renter becomes suspicious and contacts the listing agent of the property. If you have vacant listings, you are urged to check them regularly for signs of unauthorized entry. Please continue to report these incidents to MIBOR so that information may be disseminated to the membership, and efforts may be coordinated with law enforcement. Contact Debbie Fairfax (317-956-5241 or firstname.lastname@example.org) with any details or concerns.
In related safety concerns, many members have made suggestions regarding industry-wide safety measures following Arkansas REALTOR® Beverly Carter’s abduction and death. MIBOR is convening a group of REALTORS® to vet the suggestions being made. Watch e-publications such as Industry Insider and Fast Track as well as MIBOR’s social media channels for news of their work. Agents are urged to use common sense measures related to personal safety, some of which were suggested in Monday’s issue of Fast Tack including:
- Make sure your brokerage has a safety plan in place and all agents are educated about its contents
- When meeting a new client for the first time, meet at the office or in a pubic setting
- Ask for ID and/or ask the client to complete an information sheet with basic identification information such as name, address, license number
- Introduce new clients to someone else in the office
- Drive to showings in separate cars
- Tell someone the address of where you will be and when you should be expected back
NAR has additional resources available including specific tips for open house safety and suggested conversations to have with clients. Click here to access.