Beware of rental home ads that offer rock bottom prices

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - With a 13-year-old daughter and a baby due in March, Rebecca Hockman is fighting the clock looking for a new place to call home.

Hockman scours rental websites looking for good deals and recently thought she found one.

An online ad offered a three-bedroom, two-bath home in Overland Park and the Blue Valley School district for just $600 a month.

"You can't even find a one bedroom apartment for that price in Johnson County. For Johnson County schools, I thought it was well worth looking in to," Hockman said.  

Hockman responded to the ad and quickly became suspicious after getting an email from the alleged owner.
"I must confess that I am very, very new in this landlord business...Due to my job as a missionary I spent less time in the States," the response read.

She called the number and became even more suspicious when the person asked her to send $600 in rent and a $600 deposit. He would then send keys for her to see the place.

"I've viewed many apartments and houses in my day. Not once did I have to put any money up front," she said. 

The phone number Hockman called also can be found on another consumer complaint website in a posting titled "rental scammer." The posting for a home in Houston included a response from the alleged homeowner that appears to be the same as the response received by Hockman.

Hockman did not send money and continues her search for a new place to live.  She contacted Call for Action to let other people know to be on the lookout.

"With money being tight, also with tax season, I would hate to see someone get suckered in," she said.

The FTC website tells consumers to look for three signs of a rental scams:

1) The alleged owner tells you to wire them money.
2) They want a security deposit or first month's rent before meeting with you or signing a lease.
3) They say they had to go out of the country.

If you do suspect a rental scam, you should contact local police and report it to the FTC.

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