Searching for rental accommodation online is an extremely convenient way of finding rental properties close to campus prior to your arrival, but as with many online products and services, rental listings can be susceptible to scamming. Make sure you are aware of the signs of a scam so you don't get caught out!
They tell you to transfer or wire money to secure the rental
Transferring or wiring money is the same as sending cash - once you send it, you are unable to get it back. Scammers will sometimes ask you to transfer or wire them money to secure the rental. Deakin recommends you do not transfer or wire money for a rental property you have not personally inspected
They want a security deposit or first month’s rent before you’ve met or signed a lease
It is not a good idea to send money to someone you have never met in person and for a property you haven’t seen. If you can’t visit a property yourself, see if you can arrange someone you trust to go and confirm that the property is a genuine rental and matches the advertisement, and your needs. If you pay money in advance, without personally inspecting the property, and it turns out to not exist, or not be what was advertised, it is very difficult to get your money back.
They say they’re out of the country
But they have a plan to get the keys into your hands. It might involve a lawyer or an “agent” working on their behalf. Some scammers even create fake keys. Or require you to send more money before they will release the keys to you. Don’t send money to them overseas. If you can’t meet in person, see the apartment, or sign a lease before you pay, keep looking for other accommodation options.
For more information about how to recognise, avoid and report scams, visit SCAMwatch.