LITTLE ROCK- Arkansans searching for a new home online should be on the lookout for rental scams. As the rental market demand continues to increase throughout Arkansas, rental scams are growing in popularity as a way for bad actors to easily collect money and personal information from consumers. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is urging Arkansans to be vigilant and do their research when seeking housing.
"I encourage everyone to be wary of a rental transaction that seems too good to be true because scammers and con-artists will stop at nothing to rip off hard-working Arkansans," said Attorney General Rutledge. "I will always fight back against scammers and con-artists who try to take advantage of Arkansans."
Often, these scammers utilize existing online real estate listings and repost the photos on sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace with promises of a dream home available for rent at an unbelievable price. Most of the communication between the scammer and would-be renter takes place via text message or email. The scammer asks consumers to complete rental applications and provide personal information including date of birth and social security number. Typically, the scammer gives the renter a quick approval and immediately asks for the security deposit to be paid via a money transfer app before the renter has even seen the property.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge recommends that consumers report rental scam listings to local law enforcement, the website on which the advertisement was posted, and the Attorney General's office.
- Do an online search of the rental company to identify any reviews or complaints.
- Rental home listings are often on several online listing services like Zillow, Trulia or Craigslist. If you see a rental company's listing on one of those online listing services, do a search of the home's address to make sure it appears on the rental company's website. If it does not, it may be a scam.
- It could be a red flag if the advertised rent is considerably less than comparable rentals in the area.
- Rental agents should have photo ID badges issued by the company that owns or manages the property.
- Apply through the rental company, licensed real estate professional or listing website.
- Before you sign a lease, look for signs at the property with the name of the property owner or manager.
- Ask to tour the property in person.
- Never pay with cash, wire transfers, gift cards or other cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin. If anyone tells you to pay this way, it is a sure sign of a scam.
If you think you have been a victim of a rental scam, please call (800) 482-8982. For more information on consumer-related topics and tips on how to avoid scams, visit ArkansasAG.gov.
About Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
Leslie Carol Rutledge is the 56th Attorney General of Arkansas. Elected on November 4, 2014, and sworn in on January 13, 2015, she is the first woman and first Republican in Arkansas history to be elected as Attorney General. She was resoundingly re-elected on November 6, 2018. Since taking office, she has significantly increased the number of arrests and convictions against online predators who exploit children and con artists who steal taxpayer money through Social Security Disability and Medicaid fraud. Further, she has held Rutledge Roundtable meetings and Mobile Office hours in every county of the State each year, and launched a Military and Veterans Initiative. She has led efforts to roll back government regulations that hurt job creators, fight the opioid epidemic, teach internet safety, combat domestic violence and make the office the top law firm for Arkansans. Rutledge serves on committees for Consumer Protection, Criminal Law and Veterans Affairs for the National Association of Attorneys General. She also served as the former Chairwoman of the Republican Attorneys General Association.
A native of Batesville, she is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. Rutledge clerked for the Arkansas Court of Appeals, was Deputy Counsel for former Governor Mike Huckabee, served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Lonoke County and was an Attorney at the Department of Human Services before serving as Counsel at the Republican National Committee. Rutledge and her husband, Boyce, have one daughter. The family has a home in Pulaski County and a farm in Crittenden County.