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Last updated: 7/10/19

Apartment scams

We work with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office to educate consumers on many issues. Learn how to identify and avoid apartment scams online.

Many renters use third-party websites to search for housing since they are easy to access and there are no fees. Renters put themselves at a higher risk when using these websites because anyone can post a rental listing without it being verified. The best course of action against a rental scam is prevention!

Still have questions? Contact:
Consumer Affairs and Licensing
1 City Hall Square
Room 817
Boston, MA 02201-2039
United States

Tips to avoid scams

general tips
  • Make sure the landlord is who they say they are. You can search the apartment address in our database to see who the actual property owner is.
  • If you are using a real estate agent or broker, make sure they are licensed by the state
  • Make sure the rental unit is registered with the City's Department of Inspectional Services.
  • Never give money to someone unless you're sure they are the landlord or leasing agent.
  • Never use a wire transfer to pay for an apartment. You can't get your money back after a wire transfer.

Don't fill out an application unless you're certain it is real. Be cautious about giving out personal information, like your social security number and bank numbers.

HOW TO SPOT A SCAM

Always insist on seeing the apartment before you rent it. Scam listings usually have fake photos, or photos stolen from an older listing. Keep an eye out for:

  • listings with unusually low rent
  • listings with grammatical or spelling errors
  • no screening process, such as a background or credit check, and
  • offers to pay the security deposit in installments.

Don't hesitate to walk away from something that seems suspicious. Trust your instincts. If you feel you've been treated unfairly or tricked, call us at 617-635-3834.