Technology has made it a lot easier to deliver Visalia property management efficiently. However, the same technology that helps us can also hurt us. Scam artists are finding ways to steal legitimate listings. They’re posting the listings themselves and tricking tenants into sending money in order to rent a property. The problem is, those tenants who have been duped may show up at your property, thinking they’ve rented your home.
What can you do when unauthorized people advertise your Visalia rental property?
Here’s how to handle it – and avoid it.
How the Advertising Scam Works
Here’s how it typically works:
- You will create a listing with photographs and information and post it online for tenants to see.
- A scammer will steal that listing – including all the photos – and create their own listing, usually on a site like Craigslist. Usually, they also list it for a low, low price.
- Tenants will contact scammers about the property. They might ask for a security deposit or even a full month’s rent.
- Tenants will show up at your property, expecting to move in.
This is awkward for owners who had no idea their listing had been pirated. While you aren’t legally responsible for the tenant who was duped, nor are you required to give them access to your rental property, it leaves everyone in an uncomfortable and often expensive predicament.
If this happens to you, call the police to report the crime.
How not to be a Target of Scammers
There are a few things you can do to ensure you don’t have someone else stealing your listing and making money off your rental property.
First, don’t advertise on Craigslist. It’s become very difficult to weed out which listings are legitimate and which are not. It’s time-consuming and labor-intensive to stay on top of everything that goes on at that site. Stick to other rental sites like Zumper, Zillow, Rent Café, etc. In your listing on those sites, make mention of the fact that you DO NOT advertise on Craigslist. If anyone sees your property listed there, they’ll know it’s a scam.
Next, make sure you’re using watermarks on your photos. This stamp tells viewers that the pictures and the listing belong to you. Scammers cannot copy your photos without the watermark, which means they likely won’t bother stealing your listing when there are plenty of others without watermarked photos.
Finally, educate tenants – both your current tenants and your prospective tenants. These scams hurt everyone. Counsel them not to ever send money without seeing a property. Remind them to be safe at showings and to make sure they have direct contact information for property managers. Remind them that working with property management companies instead of independent landlords can often lead to better results.
If a scammer has stolen your rental listing and is using it to make money, you need to alert the authorities. Takedown your own listing immediately and adjust it to reflect the changes we’ve recommended – notably the watermarked photos. Always include contact information in your ads.
Please contact us at The Equity Group if you’re worried about being scammed or you believe you’ve been a victim. We’ll help with this and any of your Visalia property management needs.