How to avoid foreclosure rent scams

If it’s too good to be true, chances are, it’s too good to be true.

That’s a pretty solid life lesson, which should certainly be applied to many things, especially when it comes to making a big decision like where you intend to lay your head at night.

Therefore, be weary of “homeowners” who offer to rent properties — that aren’t even theirs to market — for rockbottom prices. In fact, with the glut of foreclosed homes affecting just about every corner and neighborhood throughout the United States, the opportunities for scammers looking to dupe hard-working, honest folks increase exponentially.

Such is the case foreclosed homes being used to scam would-be renters. The scammers list foreclosed and/or vacant homes for rent, collect a down payment, typically online, and then disappear.

Rinse, wash, repeat and cheat.

A Keller Williams Realty agent from San Jose, Calif., explains how it’s done via the Seattle Times:

“They [a scammer] take my listing, flip it around, advertise it as a rental. People are told to wire money to an overseas account. Usually, the common thread is, ‘I’m the owner, I’m out of the country for some reason, and that is why I can’t come and meet you. If you’re interested, here’s my bank account, for the deposit.'”

Naturally, the would-be renter, in most cases, can’t “enter” the property until a deposit is made, meaning that photos online and a curbside inspection in these types of scams are red flags that must be identified — and avoided — at all costs.

Other foreclosure rent scam red flags include, but are not limited to:

  • Insist on meeting the owner
  • Don’t wire a deposit in exchange for the keys
  • Be wary of rentals that are “too good to be true”
  • Get a written rental agreement
  • Be suspicious if the owner doesn’t want any information about you

Craigslist, which “goes to great lengths to prevent scams,” is often a common hunting ground for scammers to attempt this type of terrible trick. Be smart, rent carefully.

To check out a very reliable list of foreclosed homes for rent be sure to check out the best nationwide database right here.


  1. That’s a good guide to start with. Be cautious of people, be keen to details. This knowledge is useful for people who are unaware of how to avoid these gimmicks.

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