Our team works meticulously to create advanced filtering mechanisms that find and eliminate scammers. Yet with over 4 million listings moving through the site, some bad listings still make it through the filters.
It is therefore the responsibility of our users to protect themselves and others within the HotPads community. Basic actions like reporting scam listings and following common sense precautions while searching will help create a much safer search environment for all.
The best way to avoid becoming a victim of housing scams is by reviewing these general rules and familiarizing yourself with some of the most common housing scams.
As outlined in our terms of service page, HotPads is in no way liable for scams.
General Rules for Avoiding Scams
- NEVER WIRE FUNDS via Western Union or any other wiring service- Never agree to wire funds to another individual. No legitimate property management company or agent will ever ask you to wire money.
- NEVER Give Out Financial Information- Never give out your bank account number, social security number, credit card number, or any other financial information until you have seen the rental or for sale property.
- Deal Locally and In Person- We know that often times you are looking for homes in a different part of the country, but, whenever possible, schedule a trip to go see all of your options in person. You'll avoid a lot of the confusion and worry by meeting agents in person before signing over your money.
- If something is "too good to be true," it is too good to be true...because it is a scam.
Common Themes Found in Housing Scams
- Unreasonably Low Rent for the Area- if rents are hundreds or thousands of dollars below the average for the area, it is very likely that it is a scam.
- Unable to show the home- if the property manager will not allow you to see the home, it could be a scam. Never sign anything or send money without first seeing the property.
- Faulty contact info- if the telephone number provided is disconnected, incorrect, or otherwise unusable, be weary as most legitimate agents and property managers have working phone lines. Also, take notice if the advertiser has a free email address (yahoo, gmail, hotmail) rather than a paid corporate URL.
- In a foreign land- if they are unable to meet with you, show you the home, and/or must be reached electronically because they are in a foreign land (often England or Africa) doing something (often "missionary work"), it is very likely that it is a scam.
Reporting Suspected Scams
Reporting to HotPads
When you come across a listing you believe is a scam, please report it to HotPads first so that we can get it removed from the site as soon as possible!
From the full view of the listing, click on the red icon in the top right corner and select "report scam/fraudulent listing."
You can also report the listing by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the full address of the property.
Reporting to Governing Organizations
- Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3): File a complaint
- Non-emergency police dept: you can also call the NON-EMERGENCY number for your local police department.
Real Examples of Scammer Correspondence
Real Example 1
I'm Mr Adams the owner of the 2 bedroom apartmen. I want you to know it was due to my transfer that makes me and my family to leave the house for England for missionary works. But I'm looking for a responsible person that can take very good care of it as we are not after money for the rent but want it to be clean all the time. The keys to the apartments and the necessary documents his withpresently with my agent in Illinois. I hope you will promise us to take very good care of the apartment. Hope you are okay with the price $650/month include all the utilities bills, you're to deposit for 1 month + $200 for agreement fees total=$850 to the agent so the he can send the key to you through Fedex or DHL."
Real Example 2
It is expedient that you see see the unit before you sign the lease but unfortunately, this will not be possible this moment bacause it is currently occupied by a young couple from florida and they would vacate the unit before your move in date. Our policy restricts us from intruding on our tenants privacy. I do hope you understand this..
However, if you are able to reserve this unit now by sending the downpayment of ONLY the security deposit, it will be kept avaialble for you and as soon as they vacate the room, i will contact you to come over and view it before you make your final dicision of either taking it or letting it pass and offcourse if you decide not to take it, your deposit will be fully refunded to you. Get back to me on this. Await your email soon."
Real Example 3
The house is available for rent at the moment so you are free to move in as soon as you wish. A Deposit of $1800(which happens to be the security deposit) is required before moving in. Feel free to call me for more information and arrangements on how to get the keys and other necessary documents delivered to you.The house will be available for rent for a period of 3 years so you have a choice of deciding how long you intend staying there."
Real Example 4
For more information about HotPads, check out How HotPads Works.