Real estate fraud and property scams are old news. But brace yourself: digital scammers are ramping up their game and going for gold, cashing in on huge sums of money being transferred online.

Don’t fall victim to their dirty tricks. Here are some of the rental property scams you need to keep your eyes peeled for:

RENTAL PROPERTY SCAMS

When rental scams run rampant, unsuspecting tenants are caught in the crosshairs. It’s all too easy for scammers to pry sensitive information out of you during the application process, and before you know it, they’ll be asking for cash upfront.

But fear not, protecting yourself from rental property scams is a breeze:

  • Stick to official channels like Rent.com.au’s Renter Resume application to share your details.
  • Opt for in-person viewings whenever you can.
  • Only cough up the cash once you’ve seen the property with your own eyes.

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FRAUDULENT PROPERTY LISTING SCAMS

Don’t let the lure of a bargain blind you to the harsh reality: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Scammers are on the prowl and constantly evolving tactics to trick users. They’ll create fake websites, steal company logos, and go to great lengths to look legit. Stay alert during your property search.

Protecting yourself online:

  • Stick to verified platforms like Rent.com.au
  • Communicate with agents in person or over the phone, minimising the need for online info sharing.
  • Do your research and check out the agent’s website or profile page before giving them the green light.
  • Only part with your hard-earned cash once you’ve inspected the property with your own eyes.

Read Rent.com.au’s official advice for avoiding scams for more information.

PHISHING SCAMS

Phishing is the go-to tactic for cybercriminals looking to score big on your confidential information. They’ll lure you in with fake messages and steal your online banking logins, credit card deets, business credentials or passwords.

But when it comes to property scams, the game is even sneakier. Scammers hack into a real estate agent’s email, then pose as the legit person to extract sensitive intel from clients. Don’t fall for their trap – stay on guard and keep your eyes peeled for any fishy business!

How to protect yourself from phishing scams

  • Always double-check bank details by giving the agency a buzz before making any transfers. Better safe than sorry!
  • Don’t be lazy with your passwords, and NEVER use the same one for multiple sites – especially when it comes to your banking and email logins.
  • Don’t be click-happy! Don’t click any links if an email or text looks slightly sketchy. And if you’re not 100% sure, give the sender a call to verify it’s the real deal.

PAYMENT REDIRECT AND BUSINESS EMAIL COMPROMISE (BEC) SCAMS

As more and more companies move online, Business Email Compromise scams are becoming all too common.

How does a payment redirection scam work?

Scammers are increasingly using email to target businesses and their clients. They gain access to official email databases and use them to send fraudulent messages, either by impersonating an official email or creating a similar-looking one.

They may also take over a client’s email account and respond to messages on their behalf. It’s important to stay vigilant and double-check email addresses before responding to any messages.

Scammers often send targeted emails to clients with fraudulent bank details for the agency’s trust account, leading to victims losing their entire deposit. These operations are usually aimed at large sums of money, such as rental bonds.

Unfortunately, they can be difficult to detect right away since it can take several days for deposits to appear. It’s crucial to exercise caution when transferring money and double-check all bank details before proceeding.

How to protect yourself from a payment redirection scam?

  • Always call the agency and carefully confirm their bank details before transferring any money
  • Never reuse your passwords or emails across different sites, especially for sensitive logins like banking or email accounts
  • Double-check email addresses each time you receive online messages, and never click on any links that look strange or out of place
  • If you’re ever unsure about a message, it’s best to call and confirm that it’s really from the person or company you think it is

Let’s wrap up!

Australia’s property industry is a prime target for scammers because of the large sums of money involved, so it’s challenging to prevent fraud completely. However, professional real estate agents prioritise security and don’t want you to fall victim to a rental property scam. Don’t hesitate to ask them to double-check the details.

While there are many ways to avoid being scammed, sometimes the best defense is trusting your instincts. Here are our top tips for avoiding a real estate scam:

  • Don’t click on links in emails
  • Always verify details by phone before transferring large amounts of money
  • If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is
  • Be wary of real estate agents or landlords who can’t meet you in person at the property.

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