Experts urge renters to make sure listings are legitimate as scams circulate

The internet offers endless places to search for listings in a renter's search for the right place. It's also a crucial time to make sure the process of inquiring about a home property is legitimate and not a scam, a Tampa real estate broker suggested. 

"As we start seeing our market come back to a more normal market, with days on market, you're probably going to see people taking advantage of this again," Tampa real estate broker Ali St. Cyr said. 

Fake craigslist or Facebook marketplace deals, properties that don't exist or phantom landlords are now all too common. Cybersecurity expert Reid Novoty said that's because scammers are using real information.

"It's as simple as highlighting something, copying it and putting it in your own format," Novotny added. "These people can mass duplicate all these listings very quickly, and it's literally impossible to know until you start getting in real life."

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Experts said if the price of a rental is too good to be true, chances are it probably is. That's just one of red flags to look out for when scrolling through some of these listings. You should take note if someone doesn't want to meet in-person or suggests making payments on apps like Zelle or Venmo.

"Someone who is very eager to get money, they'll ask quick questions among other questions that seem normal, but just make sure that you're looking at the content of the email," St. Cyr added. "If anything looks suspicious, you know, you can try to do a little bit more searching online."

Be sure to compare the listing on other sites or if something raises an eyebrow, use the internet, to beat the internet scammers.

"Take that information, google it and say, is this a scam?" Novotny added. "If Joe Bryan, whoever is trying to sell this, it'll come back pretty quickly."