The North Bay Police Service (NBPS) is once again issuing a warning of rental scams in the area.
The service issued a release this morning saying it has received reports of scammers taking money from victims by advertising fraudulent rental listings online.
Police say to be careful when you are looking for a residence to rent online, adding reports show postings have been made on online marketplace websites.
According to NBPS, the scammers accept the victims’ application to rent the property and request the victim send initial rent money via eTransfer. After the victim has paid the amount, the scammers cut off contact.
They add the rental listings often use images and details about real residences but aren’t for rent. This is done without the permission or knowledge of the current residents. In some instances, after paying rent, victims attended the address on their scheduled move-in dates only to learn that they had been victims of a scam.
Police say these types of fraudulent rental listings often become more prevalent as university and college students begin looking for places to live during the upcoming school year.
Officials with the Competition Bureau of Canada say one way to protect yourself against rental scams is to go to the address and make sure the listing is truthful and accurate. If you are unable to go in person, go online to see actual images of the rental.
They say another way to protect yourself is to research the address to ensure it is not a duplicate post. You may even conduct a reverse image search to see if the photos were used elsewhere.
The officials also recommend asking to schedule a showing and confirm that the landlord will be present.
If you do plan on renting in a new development, officials say to contact the builder to confirm ownership, request a lease or contract, and review it thoroughly.
Most importantly, they say to be sure to know your rights as a tenant. If needed, they add to reach out to your provincial or territorial department or ministry of housing.
Police officials say if you or someone you know has been the victim of this or any other scam, call the police in your area. If you want to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.