International Students Beware: How to avoid House Scammers
As an international student coming to France, the first thing you will ask yourself is: Where will I live?
Finding somewhere decent, safe, and convenient can be a major source of stress for you, as an International student. Unfortunately, scammers know how important that is and could attempt to take advantage of your need to find a home.
It all depends on where you are moving in France, there may be limited options for student residences and housing. You must know that housing scams in France has been increasing and students represent an easy prey for them given the fact they have less experience and are vulnerable.
What can you, as an international student, do to ensure you don’t fall victim to these complicated cons?
What are Rental Scams exactly?
Rental scams can be any type of fraudulent activity by an individual or a group of individuals who claim to have a property for rent that does not belong to them. It may be theirs but looks totally different than what has been advertised.
These types of scams vary on a specific theme, and the main goal in such a scam situation is to collect money from prospective tenants. There are many forms where they collect the money from: Application fees, Pet fees, Security Deposits, Rent, etc.
How can you recognize these scams?
Here are some generally recognized tips on how a scammer would act:
– They offer a very nice room or apartment, absolutely looking beautiful, at a below average market price (very low)
– When you ask for details about the place, they will provide you with a very detailed description and photos (probably not even theirs).
– They will refuse to meet you either on Skype, any other video means or in person. Scammers may say that they’re out of the country or unwell, so cannot show you around the property.
– They will rush you to close the deal claiming that other people are interested as well.
– Last but not least, they will ask for money transfer as “proof” of your interest, they will say if you do not like the apartment after the visit, they will give back the money (it was just for insurance).
Now, here are some general guidelines that may be useful for you:
1– Be cautious if the rent and location seem suspicious and too good to be true.
2– Watch out if you are asked to send money to an overseas account (using Western Union for example – it is untraceable, no proof of you sending the money)
3– Never pay a deposit without viewing the property first and if they don’t give you a contract
4– Avoid advertisements that do not have pictures (check if other advertisements have the same ads)
5– Make sure to check the details given about the contact. Try calling or video calling them, since fraudsters often tend to give false numbers and beware of advertisements with only emails
6– In order to avoid problems, ask your university or school’s international office or student union to suggest a trustworthy agency or landlord or even a platform for that matter.
7– Make sure you research very well (extensive research is a priority) do not rush into it
8– Meet the owner! This is a must. You might still be subject to a scam; however, it is better to see them and get their names. If their names are even false, ask questions and gather as much information about them. If they refuse to answer, then they will most probably be scammers.
To sum up, if anything looks weird to you, that’s when you need to start asking yourself questions. You need to make sure things are real, that’s why you have to research extensively.
Renting a property by yourself is for sure cheaper through an agency. However, you must take into consideration the fact that if you are scammed, you will lose the money.
That’s why Click&Live is here to provide you with the best secure and trusted partners for students to reside in France.