JumpOffCampus, Student Life

Stop the Spam!!! You heard us.

As with other established apartment listing sites & services, we’ve finally graduated to a new level of popularity… as a target for scammers. Sometimes it’s a realtor misrepresenting themselves or one of their properties. Other times, it’s someone posing as a student asking about the apartment, or even less legit, about you.

Yes, it’s unfortunate, but we’ve taken several measures to educate our users and also implemented functionality to more quickly identify potential spammers and block them from causing any more havoc.

SO…. how do we do it? We created functionality where messages received on the site can be marked as spam.  Once a message is marked as spam, it is put into a queue where we look at the messages and block users, if necessary. Often times, blocking is unnecessary as the message is actually from a student and an overzealous, click-happy landlord decided to lay down the law, but better to be safe then sorry!!!

Here are a couple more “pro” tips on how to avoid scams, and also what to do if you do encounter one:

  1. Make sure any messages you reply to are legitimate.  Use common sense. Detailed descriptions of who they are often help but could be signals that they’re hiding something. If they look like they are covering up something, then they most likely are.
  2. If a listing looks too good to be true, then it probably is.  If there is a brand new super nice apartment in an awesome area for significantly less rent then usual in the area, it could be someone trying to grab your attention with a fake apartment listing so that they have your contact information for other listings. We call this a “bait and switch.”
  3. Don’t EVER send anyone money without proper due diligence.  If someone says they have a money order and want you to cash it and send a portion of the money back, it’s NOT legit. Scammers often send fake money orders, have you cash them and send them a portion of the money back before you realize you never actually got any money in the first place because the money order was fake.
  4. Do not give out any information.  There is no reason any landlords or sub-lessors should be asking for identifying information such as a social security number or bank account information. If you are being asked for this information, it is likely not legit.
  5. Mark any suspicious activity as spam using our new feature.  You can even do this directly from the email alerts you are sent.
  6. Contact us if you feel there is something we should know about. We welcome your feedback and want to make the site the best resource for students out there.  The only way we know how to make improvements is from feedback from our users.  We’re always looking for ways to make improvements so send us any questions, feedback or concerns to help@jumpoffcampus.com. We’re looking forward to them!

Alas! The goal of this post isn’t to scare you, rather we want to educate our users on the issue and how to best handle the situation. Believe us, there are PLENTY of awesome apartments and really good deals on our site, but it’s good practice to be careful!

Check out a previous blog entry of ours for more spam info & stories.

As always, let us know if you have any feedback. And to all that have graduated this past week or so, best of luck to all of you! (P.S. don’t forget to like our Facebook page, and also check out our contest ending at the end of May!  You don’t want to miss out on chances at free TVs for next semester’s apartment)!

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Housing Advice, Renting

Providence renters beware!

A warning was release by the Rhode Island state attorney general to watch out for a new scam on craigslist. Most of the scams we hear about here at JumpOffCampus are one of two scams. Realtors often promote fake listings in order to generate more leads for their current stock, wasting students’ time. The other common scam is the standard craigslist one: a scammer pretends to be renting a property or sublet, and “accidentally” sends too much money for the first month’s rent in the form of a fake money order.

This new scam, however, involves pretending to be a property owner looking for tenants. When renters inquire, they are asked for additional information, including social security numbers, full names, and addresses. The scammer then uses this information to steal their identity, making purchases and signing up for credit cards.

So watch out, students! (Or just stay on JumpOffCampus, of course) The original boston.com article is here:
http://www.boston.com/news/local/rhode_island/articles/2012/04/27/ri_renters_warned_against_craigslist_housing_scam/

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JumpOffCampus, Student Life

And the award for Best Sublet posting goes to…

I wanted to highlight a hilarious sublet posted by one of the Brown students on our site. The pictures are obviously flyers he made, and I can only hope that Providence and Brown campus are covered in them:

http://jumpoffcampus.com/map#show=3096

For this noble pursuit, he certainly deserves some more interest. Somebody sublet this place!

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Dear JumpOffCampus...

Search by Length of Lease

We got a great suggestion yesterday from a student at Brown. Here’s the request:

“It would really help to be able to search by summer sublet vs 1 year lease. As it is now, I have to click on every place to check if it’s just for the summer or if it’s for 1 year. Less important would be the ability to have check boxes for various things: backyard, dishwasher, free laundry, off-steet parking.”

Sounds good to us! This is something we probably should have had a while ago: advanced search. So we put in a bit of time yesterday and here we are, advanced search to the rescue! Now you can filter down your search by the length of the lease, fees, pictures, pets, laundry, and utilities!

Check it out on the map.

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Uncategorized

What a student wants

Everyone evaluates apartments differently, and it seems no one knows exactly what they’re looking for. There are just so many factors to consider. Brokers know this all too well. We’ve talked with a lot of them, and their worst nightmare is someone who can’t describe what they want, which makes showing around prospective tenants a lot more time-consuming.

Fortunately, the National Apartment Association has been making big strides in understanding tenants’ needs, especially students. Earlier this month, they came out with their new report which sampled over 10,000 students, and 3,500 parents: Apartment Features, Amenities And Programs That Sell To Students And Parents. Here at JumpOffcampus, we’ve started making it easier to include parents in the housing search, but it looks like parents and students don’t see eye-to-eye when it comes to apartment hunt.

So, what matters most? As you can guess, students and parents had different answers. For students, number one was price, and location was second. For parents, the most important factor was security, also followed by location, with price coming in third. And interestingly, although it may seem that students care a lot about proximity to friends, it ranked higher with parents than students.

So what defines a more secure apartment? According to parents, it’s location and controlled access, which can consist of key fobs or buzzers. If you manage properties with these add-ons, make sure it’s well known! There are a lot of other issues surrounding security, and one of the important ones was well-lit parking areas. This seems like a cheap fix for a lot of landlords, and may be as easy as installing a light on the side of the house. About 20% of both students and parents said it was the single most important security feature for an apartment to have!

-Kyle

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Uncategorized

Time’s a Tickin’ for Ed-Tech!

You would think that those in higher education would have a leg up on other industries in adopting new technologies, but sadly this isn’t often the case. In speaking with many administrators, I have found that many still use paper-intensive processes such as keeping off-campus listings in a 3-ring binder… That’s a lot of hole-punching! This means that someone in the housing office within the university is taking valuable time out of their day to field phone calls from local landlords, manually type up the information, then print (and hole-punch!) the listing, before systematically placing each one into an existing binder. 

Students, who are often first-time apartment hunters and often look to the administrators for help, are then forced to sift through said binder, manually taking down each landlord’s contact info for the properties they’re interested in. BUT! How do they even find good matches? This system doesn’t give them a way to filter for say, 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, or even for properties under $1000/month. AND this is all assuming the listings are kept up-to-date and that they are all still available for rent (requiring even more work from the administrators who are tasked with this arduous process). Then let’s say a student finally finds a suitable place to live in with their friends but needs one more roommate to fill the apartment… There should be ONE, centralized place to do this, too! 

JumpOffCampus solves this issue, empowering students to find safe and affordable housing easily, while also allowing administrators to oversee the process and provide real value to their students. While this may just be one example specific to off-campus housing, there are other companies (including some in @Betaspring) who are also tackling blatant technology issues. Shout out to RecoVend

Well, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education (March 23rd, 2012 Edition), we’re in “A Boom Time for Education Start-Ups“ and it’s about time higher education institutions caught up with technology. It may seem daunting to make the switch to a new technological process, but the time, energy, and money saved (even in the short-term) are well worth it. “Colleges have students’ best interests in mind, but ‘in a world of good intentions, [the] biggest competition is indecision… Universities are actually shooting themselves in the foot within this market transformation by being slow in their procurement decisions.’” (Michael Staton, The Chronicle of Higher Education, p. 16) 

So, bite the bullet! Get started on that overdue transition into the world of technology. Your tired old hole puncher will thank you. 🙂

– Mark

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Uncategorized

Nightmare on College Ave, Part II: Psycho (Roommates)

Hello again! Since our last post, we’ve received quite a few (horror) stories about roommates. In case you missed it, we’ve already established what makes a bad roommate in Part I of this series, so now it’s time to dive in to some real stories. 

Often times, you can’t choose your freshman year roommate, so a lot of these horror stories stem from awkward situations arise when communication between you two breaks down and you’re both hurtling towards mutually assured destruction. 

One submission, in particular, caught my eye. I’ve altered it somewhat to anonymize names and places for obvious reasons. Enjoy! 

“Would you believe me if I told you that my freshman year roommate morphed from a quiet, nice, studious kid into a passive-aggressive, army-trained killing machine? 

Starting from the beginning, I first met JOE during a pre-orientation program we were both a part of. He seemed respectful and nice, and I was looking forward to making my first friend at school! Well, JOE didn’t seem to have the same thing in mind – he would hang out with people I brought over to our room, but never came out with us or engaged in conversation beyond any standard pleasantries. In fact, he never left our room. This included not going to class, either. He would simply sit at his desk, playing computer games all… day (and night)… long… Even with a freshman meal-plan, he would still order food to our dorm 3 times a day. 

As long as we kept to ourselves, we could coexist. And we did. For a little bit. But it wasn’t long before he turned into a raging psycopath! One night after a long day of classes I decided to listen to some music, forgoing using headphones because I wanted to lay down. Not even a minute later, I could sense strongly negative energy in the room, coming from his side of the room. I looked over, intending to ask whether he minded me playing my music, but it was too late…. An object was already hurtling its way through the air, directly at my head. I only narrowly avoided it and watched it smash into the window behind me, cracking the pane. WTF. 

As you can obviously imagine, this was the beginning of the end of our roommate relationship. I decided after a few more episodes of passive-aggressive behavior like this that it was time to move out. This would have been fine and dandy but the kicker is that before I was able to do so, my roommate was drafted by his respective country’s army and was sent “home” for bootcamp. I’m sure he’s back on campus now but I’m scared to bump into him around campus. Good thing he’s probably tucked away in his room playing  games and eating delivery.” 

While you normally can’t pick your freshman-year roommate, you can definitely avoid situations like these in the future! Check out the Roommate Finder on JumpOffCampus

I hope you enjoyed this story and that you’re looking forward to Part III of this series. 

Once again, send in your own roommate horror stories! I’m looking forward to (maybe sharing) them. We can be reached at admin@jumpoffcampus.com. 

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