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:
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- Mark any suspicious activity as spam using our new feature. You can even do this directly from the email alerts you are sent.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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)!