How to Spot a Rental Scam

Spotting a rental scam can be crucial in protecting yourself from financial loss and potential fraud.

Recently, we were looking for a room for rent. It sounded like an ideal place, in the right location, for the right amount. My alarm bells should have been sounding from the get-go. But we decided to proceed. Everything seemed typical until we got to the part where she discussed rental and application fees. No biggie right – no scam alerts yet. Then she stated that he would have to fill out an application to view the room under the premise that if he didn’t like it, it would be refunded. 

There it was – alarm bells. I immediately did a reverse look-up of the number to see if the name provided matched – and no info could be found – another alarm bell. He told her to contact me and guess what – no calls. Thankfully, I was able to catch this before any money was provided or an actual email was given – as this is where they can hack you as well. 

Without further delay, here are some signs that may indicate a rental scam:

  • Unrealistic or too-good-to-be-true offers: Scammers often lure victims with exceptionally low prices or luxurious properties at a fraction of the market rate. If the deal appears too good to be true, it’s likely a scam.
  • Request for upfront payment or wire transfers: If the landlord or agent asks you to wire money or pay a large sum upfront before signing any documents or viewing the property, it’s a red flag. Legitimate landlords typically require a security deposit or first-month’s rent after signing a lease agreement.
  • Absence of property viewings: Scammers may provide excuses for not allowing you to visit the property or claim they are currently out of town. They might even offer fabricated reasons such as renovations or ongoing repairs. Always insist on visiting the property before making any payments.
  • Lack of proper documentation: Legitimate landlords will provide a lease agreement or rental contract outlining the terms and conditions. Be wary of landlords who refuse to provide written documentation or use generic, poorly constructed contracts.
  • Pressure tactics and urgency: Scammers may use high-pressure tactics, claiming that there are multiple interested parties or that you need to act quickly to secure the rental. They want you to make impulsive decisions without thoroughly considering the details.
  • Communication irregularities: Poor grammar, spelling mistakes, excessive capitalization, or generic email responses can indicate a scam. Legitimate landlords and agents generally maintain professional communication.
  • Unverified or untraceable contacts: Scammers often use untraceable email addresses, generic names, or free online messaging services. They may avoid providing a physical address or use fake contact information.
  • Inability to meet in person: If the landlord or agent refuses to meet you face-to-face or conduct video calls, it raises suspicion. Physical interaction and communication are essential when dealing with rental properties.
  • Duplicate listings or stolen property images: Scammers may copy legitimate rental listings from reputable websites and repost them with altered contact details. Perform a reverse image search to check if the property photos are stolen from elsewhere.
  • Trust your instincts: If something feels off or doesn’t seem right, trust your gut feeling. It’s better to walk away from a potentially fraudulent situation than to risk losing your money or personal information.

Remember, scammers continuously come up with new tactics, so stay vigilant and educate yourself about common rental scams. Whenever possible, work with reputable real estate agents, use trusted rental platforms, and conduct thorough research before entering into any agreements.

If you are looking to buy or sell or need an agent to help provide resources, check out our PCS map below and click on “Connect with the PCS Professional” at the location you need. 

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Our military map has lots of resources for every military base within the United States including schools, base housing, colleges, Facebook groups, and connections to local real estate agents that are military affiliated and provide OUR credit

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Power of Attorney – 5 Reasons You Must Have One

Power of attorney

I can’t tell you how many times I have called a company to deal with my husband’s bills or handle something, and I get, “We can’t discuss that with you!” Sound familiar?

I handle everything in my household – EVERYTHING.  So that was a big issue for me.  Even if you don’t handle everything, there may come a day when your spouse is deployed or gone and you will need to manage things.

This is why you must make getting a Power of Attorney a TOP priority.

I will give you 5 reasons this is so important and how it can help your family.

power of attorney

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Power of Attorney - In Simple Terms

So what is a Power of Attorney?

It is a legal document that allows you to act on behalf of another person.  Both people are present when you apply for one, and you need a witness to sign as well.

Your base should have resources to have this done in under an hour (as well as witness for you).  Ours was done at our PSD office. However, you can download a PDF copy of one here.

There are TWO kinds – General and Special.

A general POA allows you to do most things.  However, some companies or banks want it spelled out.  This is where a special POA comes into play.  I have both.

A special POA spells out EXACTLY what can or cannot be done.  The person may wish that you can handle their bills, but not withdraw money or take out loans.  This gives you some access, but not all.

How much access you have all depends on the person granting the access – which is a serious conversation you should have. Here is some more in depth information to read up on should you want too.

Below are 5 reasons, or areas, on why you need one.

1. Mortgage or Rental Agreements

My situation is unique.  Our mortgage is only in my husband’s name, so they would never talk to me without his authorization.  When Hurricane Irma hit and we had damage, they would not speak to me about the insurance claims (which I am co-listed on).

When you get a specific POA, ensure that you can handle mortgage or rental agreements.  This means you can dispute and/or verify payments, claims, interest, property taxes, escrow, etc.

If you are in a rental, you may need to deal with the property management team if you are not listed on the lease (which can occur for engaged couples, those dating, even Newlyweds).

One of the biggest reasons – your spouse has to transfer, but you do not have a buyer yet on your house.  Well to keep your spouse from traveling back and forth for closings and such – you can add real estate transactions.

Moving soon? Check out the resources on the moving page or grab my complete Moving Guide and PCS Notebook Guide for FREE here.

2. Banking

My husband and I have been together for 11 years. He trusts me implicitly. He knows that my goals are for financial freedom, retirement, college tuition for our girls – basically, I am not going to frivolously spend all his money when he away.

If you and your significant other have the same goals, you may want to consider adding banking to your POA. I can take loans (which I hate, but can do) for let’s say a new vehicle if I had too, or repairs on our house that aren’t covered by insurance, etc.

I was even able to lower my husband’s interest rate on his credit card.


Is your spouse deployed for the birth of your child? I hope not, but in the unfortunate case that he/she is, you will need to register your child in DEERS. Having this listed on your POA will help you add or enroll dependents as well Tricare.

4. Household Goods and Vehicles

One of worst things about moving is . . . well moving. When you have to PCS without your spouse, you need to be able to deal with shipping and receiving your stuff (including your vehicles).  You may also need to be the person to deal with claims on damaged or missing items to ensure you receive reimbursement.  Read the article on why I stalk my movers here.

Side note – To ship a vehicle, you must provide a VIN number and a location on your POA – to ship goods, they can put to any location.

Moving soon? Grab your PCS guides here.

Power of attorney

5. Military Housing

Unlike buying a house where you need attorneys and banks, military housing/quarters typically deals with the member.  Regardless if you are on the lease or not, they will want to speak with the member to accept and pay monthly allotments. In order to accept or decline, sign for housing, and possess the unit, I would include this.  It also allows you to speak with them about monthly allotments.

At many locations, housing is mandatory or requires a waiver to decline housing.  This is where this will be necessary if your significant other is deployed.

Power of Attorneys are important for military spouses as well as civilians.  There are specific types for whatever sector you are in – this covering military POAs specifically. 

Be sure to call all of the places you do business with before your spouse deploys to ensure they will accept your POA and that they do not have one of their own.

I recommend sitting down and discussing how and in what ways you can be more involved.

If you found this advice, or any of my advice helpful, please consider buying from one of my affiliates at no additional cost to you and supporting The Military Move. When you click and make a purchase within 24 hours (at no additional charge), we receive a small donation. Thank you!

Kelsey Ramirez

About the Author

Kelsey Ramirez is a Real Estate Broker in western Washington. She is also a veteran elementary school teacher, military wife, and mom to two daughters.  She is the founder of The Military Move, a military-based website to help families in the PCS process. Kelsey loves to travel, write, and create amazing content.  She has her Masters in Technology, which she uses to learn all new things digital.

With three decades of military support, Kelsey’s mission is to help new and existing military families in their unique adventures through all military topics including PCSing, budgeting, school choice and rights, housing, and especially just being a military spouse.

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