It’s no secret that the internet has transformed how we access information. With its easy-to-use platform and quick search results, the internet is the go-to starting point for almost anything these days.
This includes housing searches.
But with the internet also comes all the online scams. According to City News Kitchener, Waterloo Regional Police have even warned the city to be aware of scams when buying or selling anything online.
So how do we avoid a potential costly scam? The University of Toronto has pulled together a list of tips to avoid internet housing scams that could be useful for anyone when searching for their next home online
The University of Toronto breaks its tips down into a few steps:
- Do not deal in cash. It’s suggested to never pay with either cash, wire transfer or equivalents like Bitcoin because they are impossible to track. Use bank cheques, money orders, or email money transfers. As always, only provide funds if you are absolutely certain that your agreement is legitimate.
- Do not rent without seeing the property first. Insist on viewing the property to reduce the chance of a scam. This will help you confirm if the property exists and is the same as the online advertisement. In cases where it is hard for you to view the property, try asking a friend or family member.
- Have an in-person meeting with the landlord. As mentioned in our previous blog post on red flags to help you spot a rental scam, asking to meet the landlord in person will benefit you to help see the property and assure the unit is legitimate. It will also reduce the risk of a scam because you have met the landlord face-to-face. If landlords avoid meeting, this is a red flag.
- Conduct Research. Google the address of the unit, the landlord’s name, email, and phone to confirm that the landlord or company exists and matches the property listed. You can also reach out to current tenants without the landlord present to assure the legitimacy of the property and if there are any further red flags to be wary of.
- Avoid sharing confidential financial information. (Like your Social Insurance Number (Sin), or banking information). It is important to know your rights. You are legally not required to submit your SIN to do a credit check. You should also demand a written lease to help prevent any scams. Consider The Government of Canada’s resources on landlord and tenant relations to learn your rights.
Remember that the best tip for avoiding any scam is prevention. Having these tips in mind when searching for housing online may just help avoid an internet scam.
For more information or help with housing, call our Housing Resource Centre at 519-749-2450.
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