FraudSMART in partnership with An Garda Síochána and Union of Students of Ireland urge students to be vigilant to rental scams and outline key advise to avoid falling victim
25th July 2019 – FraudSMART in association with An Garda Síochána and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) are today advising consumers, and in particular third level students and their parents, to be alert to rental accommodation scams in which victims get conned into paying a deposit for a property that does not exist or has already been rented, often to multiple people.
The warning comes in advance of the publication this year’s Leaving Cert results and the start of the new college year which will see young people across the country searching for rental accommodation.
Explaining the risks involved and how these scams work Niamh Davenport who leads the FraudSMART programme with Banking & Payments Federation Ireland, said:
“As the leaving cert results approach we understand that young adults will be excited at the prospect of going to college for the first time and looking forward to their next chapter, but they need to take the time to research accommodation options before committing to any property. Know the warning signs, understand the risks and do your homework. Equally, for parents and friends we ask them to play their part in assisting young people in to ensure no costly mistakes are made.”
“There are many ways in which rental property scams are carried out however one of the most common ones we see is where the fraudster rents a holiday or short let themselves , they advertise the house for rent and show it to multiple potential tenants with the aim of collecting multiple deposits and then disappear with the money. Another common scam is where the fraudster re-advertises listings of actual available rentals with their own email or phone number, they will often refuse to show you the property but may send photos or keys in exchange for payment of rent and a deposit. In both cases the victims only realise they’ve been scammed after the fraudster has left with their money.”
Also speaking today Lorna Fitzpatrick, President, Union of Students in Ireland said:
“It is of the utmost importance that students take caution when viewing properties to rent for the upcoming academic year. The unfortunate truth is that people are taking advantage of students vulnerability when it comes to the housing crisis and accommodation shortage for students in third level education, and profiting off their struggle to find housing. Always view the property in person before putting down any form of deposit, meet with your potential landlord and find out if they are registered with the RTB (residential tenancies board).”
FraudSMART has set out the following advice to help students avoid falling victim to rental scams:
- Do your homework – familiarise yourself with the average rent price in your search area. If the rent is unusually low and seems to be good to be true, it usually is.
- Use online maps to confirm that the property being advertised actually exists and is at the stated address.
- Check short term rental sites to ensure the property is not being used by a fraudster for fake “viewings” who will take your deposit money.
- Keep copies of all correspondence between yourself and the advertiser, including bank details and the advertisement itself.
- Use legitimate well-known rental agencies where possible.
- Don’t hand over any money until you have seen the property and are happy with its condition. Once satisfied use a cheque or bank draft to pay the deposit.
- Don’t make any payments until you have been given the keys and signed the rental contract. Always check that the keys fit in the lock
- Remember, don’t transfer money until you have carried out all the relevant checks and you are absolutely sure the listing is genuine.
- Don’t be embarrassed if you have been scammed. Report it to your local Garda Station and contact your bank.
Further information on rental and other fraud types can be found on the FraudSMART website www.fraudSMART.ie. FraudSMART is a fraud awareness initiative developed by Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) on behalf of the banking industry.