Scam alert: Oklahoma realtors warning renters about online scams

For Rent

OKLAHOMA CITY – If you are in the market for a new rental home, we have a warning for you.

The Oklahoma Association of Realtors wants you to be aware of an online scam happening in the state.

Here’s how it works: 

The suspect duplicates a listing online, specifically on Zillow, as a rental property.

When someone is interested in a listing, they will be asked to send a deposit in exchange for keys, which will be mailed to them.

At that point, they find out that it was all a sham and the home is for sale and not for rent.

“We hate to see a rise in scams like this in the state,” said Pete Galbraith, OAR president. “The best way to prevent being scammed is to do your research on the property beforehand and never send payment to anyone you have not met. We certainly want Oklahomans to be safe and protected from this sort of incident.”

Officials with Zillow say they work diligently to protect consumers against fraud and sent KFOR the following statement:

“Zillow goes to great lengths to police activity and fully inform our users of the existence of scams and how to protect themselves. Our customer support team monitors activity on the site in a number of different ways and if a rental listing is found to be fraudulent, it is immediately removed from Zillow. We also work to educate home buyers, sellers and renters about scams, telling users to look out for red flags like requests for wire transfers and long-distance inquiries, and directing them to our fraud and scams page, which provides valuable information about how to avoid fraudulent listings.”

Here is a link to the fraud and scams page.

Here are some tips to avoid the rental scam:

Do your research. Always review an online posting, especially on sites such as Zillow or Craigslist, with a critical eye. Always contact the Realtor listed to confirm the address and any names or companies associated with the home. If a deal sounds good to be true, it often is.

Do not pay anyone you have not met. The best way to avoid a scam is to work with someone local you can meet in person. Never make a payment to someone you have not met and do not send funds via wire or another service like Western Union. Be sure to take a tour of the property prior to renting to ensure the listing is accurate. If you are unable to connect with the lister after many attempts, that may be a red flag.

Never give out financial information. Be cautious of how others can access your information. Never provide any financial information over-the-phone or via the internet without verifying their identity in person.

Report suspicious activity or scams. If you have been scammed in the past or run across a scam, be sure to share your knowledge and keep others from being scammed as well. Call Better Business Bureau to file a complaint and call local law enforcement.