At SabbaticalHomes.com, we take security very seriously. We are vigilant about screening emails to ferret out potential scammers before they can access our community of members. Unfortunately, we are not always successful as many scammers are so clever in deceiving others.
Our best partners in this process have turned out to be our members. We have had numerous tips from members who have encountered suspicious people in an email exchange and then alerted us to their existence. We can then block them from any further contacts via our site, stopping the fraud attempt before it happens.
Before entering into any agreements, either as an owner or a tenant ask for references and check them thoroughly. Be aware of cases where scammers have “borrowed” the names of reputable scholars and targeted our members. To avoid detection, the person bypasses our system and contacts individuals through publicly available university contact information. We have a helpful article just on Checking References at: http://sabbaticalhomes.com/NewsArticle.aspx?id=198
In addition to avoiding any emails written in broken or poor English, we also offer these specific tips depending on which side of the agreement you are on when finalizing your plans.
Never let a tenant pay more than is asked for and then demand a refund. A scammer will offer a deposit amount above what you are asking for and ask for the difference to be paid back, often under the ruse to get a refund in the currency of that country so never agree to this type of arrangement.
It’s a good idea to Google the names of your prospective tenants. One of our members did so and discovered that the couple was wanted for running various scams as squatters. He then alerted us to the problem and we were able to reach everyone who had dealt with them and squash any further contact with our community.
Ask the landlord for identification to ensure they are who they say they are.
Be suspicious if the owner requires all fees to be made via wire transfer. Any request to use Western Union is a red flag to stay away from that contract.
Don’t give out social security, bank account information or credit card numbers to anyone not verified as legitimate.
If we all work together to be on the look out for these con artists, and share any information we receive about them, we can stop them in their tracks and keep SabbaticalHomes.com the safe and secure site it is.