Imagine finding your Long Beach rental property listed on a site like Craigslist when you didn’t post it.
There are the pictures you took. There is the description you wrote. Two things will be different: the contact information and the price. The price will likely be dramatically lower. Absurdly low, actually.
This is a scenario that happens more often than you might imagine. Not only is it bad for you, because your listing has been stolen it’s also bad for the tenants who are also being scammed. They’re likely to think they’re getting a great deal. They’ll hand over a deposit or money even if something seems off.
It’s a situation that can leave both tenants and owners feeling helpless.
What can you do if a scammer advertises your Long Beach rental property?
Flag the Listing and Contact the Host Site
The first order of business is to get the listing taken down as soon as you can. When it comes to your attention that someone has stolen your listing in order to scam potential tenants, contact the host site. It’s typically going to be a site like Craigslist or some other free platform. But you may also find them on paid sites like Zillow and Zumper.
Put your notification in writing and include photos of the fake listing. You might have to do some follow up; there is no telling how long it will take a site to respond to the information you provide. Be persistent until you get the fake listing taken down.
Report the Scam to Your California’s Department of Consumer Affairs
Next, you’ll want to make a report to law enforcement. You should also get in touch with the California Department of Consumer Affairs. You can also contact the state’s attorney general’s office and the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center. The more you share this information, the better your chances at having the posting taken down and the responsible party held to account.
Protecting Yourself from Long Beach Rental Scams
Criminals are getting smarter, and they know how to leverage technology to their advantage. You need to be diligent in avoiding these scams. Here’s what we recommend:
- Use a watermark on all of the photos associated with your listing. That will give your real listing credibility that fake listings don’t have. If someone tries to steal your photos, they will have to work around that watermark, and the scammers won’t want to bother with that. They’ll look for an easier target.
- Always include your name and contact information so tenants know exactly who they are contacting.
- Consider leasing your home through a Long Beach property management company. We have systems in place to protect you and your property from being a target of one of these scams.
You may eventually hear from tenants who fell for the scam and believe they have rented your property. Explain the situation and refer them to law enforcement or any of the other agencies we mentioned so they can try to get back any money they lost.
This is a tough situation for both owners and tenants. If you’d like some help in avoiding scams and improving your marketing and leasing process, we’d love to talk with you. Contact us at HCM Property Management.