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Avoid Housing Scams While Traveling

Avoid Housing Scams While Traveling

More travelers today are choosing to secure their own temporary housing for a travel assignment than ever before.  With that said, we have also seen a rise in number of housing scams listed online, specifically on Craig’s List.  Before you endeavor in finding your own housing arrangements, know what “red flags” to watch for when evaluating potential temporary housing. Here are some general rules for avoiding scams. 

  • Never wire funds to another individual via Western Union or any other wiring service.  No legitimate property management company or agent will ever ask you to wire money.  Additionally, never send money if the agent will not show the rental or release keys until a large payment has been made.
  • Never give out personal financial information such as your bank account number, social security number, credit card or other financial information until you have seen the rental property. 
  • When possible deal locally and in person.  We know you are often looking for housing in a different part of the country, but whenever possible schedule a trip to go see all of your options in person, or ask a friend or family member to go on your behalf. 
  • Some personal information should be requested. If a landlord doesn't seem interested in any form of tenant screening, such as credit score, criminal background check, rental history, or employment verification, it should be viewed suspiciously.
  • Unreasonably low rents are a sign it’s too good to be true.  If the rent you are being offered is hundreds of dollars below the average for that area, it is very likely a scam.
  • Legitimate agents will have an actively working phone number.   If a telephone number is not provided or is disconnected, be wary of who you are dealing with.  Also be cautious if the advertiser has a free email (Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, etc.) versus a corporate email.
  • Avoid renting from anyone based overseas who is unable to meet with you in person, or send a representative to meet with you in person, or who can only be reached electronically because they are out of the county.
  • Most scam postings will be very poorly written and contain numerous typos, spelling mistakes, and sentences that just don’t make sense.

Things to do if you become the victim of an apartment rental scam: 
  • Call the police.  Immediately notify local law enforcement if you’ve been scammed.  Even if you don’t want to press charges against the offender, the information you provide might be enough to help police apprehend the scammer and get your money returned.
  • Contact the publisher where the ad was posted.  If the scam originated from a newspaper classified ad or online posting, let the publisher know what happened.  Many take scams very seriously and will block the scammer from posting again. 
  • File a complaint with the FTC.  If you become the victim of a rental scam in the US, consider reporting it to the Federal Trade Commission. 

Finding a rental property that has rented to travelers in the past is the most ideal situation. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is talk to other travelers for their housing suggestions.  There are a number of travel nursing blogs and Facebook pages that have been created by travelers, for travelers, to share information just like this.  There are also services such as Travelers Haven that are available, for a small fee, to help travelers fine their own housing arrangements. 

And don’t forget the free housing services offered by Randstad Healthcare.  Our dedicated housing team will work tirelessly to find clean and safe housing within a reasonable distance of your next assignment, and often at a complex with other Randstad Healthcare travelers making it a great place to meet friends on your new assignment.