The national authority has received over 3300 scam reports mentioning the coronavirus with over $1.6 million in reported losses since the outbreak of COVID-19.
Common scams include phishing for personal information, online shopping, and superannuation scams – and some states are also warning renters to be on guard for fake real estate agents pocketing deposits or bonds for rental properties that don’t exist.
Scammers are advertising rental properties on well-known property websites, with recent reports on realestate.com.au also reporting Facebook Marketplace is a target.
The scammers will often tell interested renters they are overseas or interstate and that you must pay your bond or deposit online.
They even use photos of real rental properties stolen from legitimate rental ads.
But there are some key steps renters can take to protect themselves, including confirming that you’re dealing with an established rental agency.
Check out these #4 tips courtesy of the Victorian government Consumer Affairs site:
- If possible, verify the identity of the person you are dealing with. For example, if they say they work for an established estate agency, you could contact the agency to confirm you are dealing with their representative.
- If the property owner offers ongoing excuses about why you cannot view the property in person – such as them being overseas – be wary.
- Avoid paying via money transfer services, or making a payment directly into a bank account, because these methods may be less secure than using BPAY.
- Do an internet search with images from the advertising, to check they haven’t been copied from another site. You can use image search websites such as Google images or TinEye.
Looking for some help to find a rental property? Check our listings for rent.