In this tight housing market, there are scammers who are preying on those who are looking for affordable housing:

In multiple cases, the “landlords” would claim to be out of the country, with one man claiming to work for the “United Nations Development Program” in Alabama.

“Yes the house is still available for rent and we are looking for a responsible person/family to occupy and maintain the house now that we are not around,” wrote “Mr. Alan W. Britnell.” (The actual owner of the property told Denverite she doesn’t know anyone by that name.)

It was all too elaborate, she knew, but she wanted to believe.

“Immediately, they’d follow up: ‘Did you get the link? Did you get the link?’” she said. Ultimately, they wanted personal information — Social Security numbers, birthdates, the kind of information that an identity thief would use.

The article has good advice for everyone to watch out for such scams:

So, what can you do?

  • Don’t fall for wishful thinking. An eager, persistent landlord with ultra-low rents is probably not legitimate, especially not in this market. If you’re really not sure, compare the listing to others in the area and see whether it’s close to the average or not.
  • Check out the supposed landlord. This can be as simple as a Google search. You also can check county records to ensure they actually own the property in question. Look to see whether the information matches listings on other sites for the same property. Get them on the phone. Visit the property yourself.
  • Keep your information to yourself. No landlord should be asking for sensitive information or money before you’ve visited the property and met them in person. You should be especially wary of people asking you to wire money.

Read more about it at Denverite.

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