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Pennsylvania Attorney General Issues Warning on Growing Threat of Rental Scams

Online rental ads may not be what they seem.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry is cautioning Pennsylvanians about deceptively authentic-looking rental scams on the rise.

As the summer season approaches, many individuals, notably college students in need of housing arrangements for the Fall, could fall prey to the cunning tactics of these fraudsters.

Scammers place seemingly genuine ads for rental properties, skillfully manipulating existing ads from legitimate real estate listings or posing as the actual realtors via compromised email accounts.

Henry also warns that some scams are designed around properties not currently on the market, another deceitful tactic to bamboozle unsuspecting tenants.

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The fraudsters, through these manipulated ads, engage with potential renters during what appears to be a routine application process. During this stage, they gather sensitive personal information and may also manage to illegally procure security deposits and rent payments.

A red flag indicative of these scams, according to Henry, is when a supposed landlord refuses to meet in person or show the property.

“If a landlord refuses to meet in person and show the property, that is usually a strong indicator of a scam,” the Attorney General pointed out.

Among the precautionary measures suggested by the Attorney General’s office to safeguard against these scams are:

  • Not proceeding with rental agreements without physically inspecting the property.
  • Verifying the identity of the person you are dealing with.
  • Avoiding the wiring of payments for application, security deposit, or first month’s rent.
  • Refraining from purchasing gift cards for payment.
  • Not divulging your Social Security number without solid identity verification.

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