Renting an apartment online? First, let me tell you about the FTC’s case against Credit Bureau Center, LLC – a company that posted fake online rentals to lure people to their credit monitoring sites.
How does this scam work? You’re looking at photos of rentals, on a site like Craigslist. You email the owner who says the apartment is still available but you need a credit check before seeing it. They direct you to their own websites, which say you’ll get a free credit report.
But what you don’t know is: The ads are fake and the credit report isn’t free. The properties don’t exist or belong to other people who haven’t authorized them being advertised. When you go to get your “free” credit report, you’re enrolled in a credit monitoring service (based on hidden small print) and charged $29.94 per month, unless you cancel within seven days.
The FTC got a court order against Credit Bureau Center LLC, halting their scam. Why? The company lied by saying properties were available when they were not. Also, Credit Bureau Center didn’t clearly tell people they were being enrolled in a credit monitoring service with a monthly fee.
If you’re renting and want to avoid a scam, here are a few tips:
- Don’t wire money to pay a security deposit, application fee or first month’s rent. Wiring money is like sending cash – once you send it, you can’t get it back.
- Don’t pay before you sign a lease. Before paying, visit the apartment (or ask someone you trust to visit it).
- Get a truly free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com or 1-877-322-8228. Check your credit before applying to rent, so you can fix errors before a landlord sees them. For more tips, read Renting an apartment? Be prepared for a background check.