Con artists and fraudsters are constantly changing their tactics to try and get their hands on people's money and personal details. Unfortunately, tenants are sometimes targeted, and this is one of the reasons we continually monitor the use of our service.
In the past we identified a scam that targeted tenants using websites such as spareroom.com, and it appears that fraudsters are trying a similar trick again.
Here’s how it works:
- The fraudster advertises a fake property or room – often at quite a cheap rental rate to attract interest
- To secure the rental, prospective tenants are told to make a deposit payment to The DPS using a set of bank account details that actually belong to the fraudster
How to spot the scam
First and foremost, we will never ask a tenant to make a payment directly to us.
You should only ever make a deposit payment to your letting agency or landlord, and we advise that wherever possible you inspect the property/room in person before doing so. Always obtain a receipt.
In many scams, communication is conducted via email. Tell-tale signs will be bad spelling or grammar and overly informal language (e.g. “finish the deal”). They may also try to make you feel under pressure to do what they want, and will sometimes ask you to confirm information that they should already have.
Recently, we've caught a few people trying to con people using the email address email@example.com. This is a fraudulent email address. If you receive any communication from that account, please disregard it, and forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org
That's a good rule of thumb; if you're unsure if an email has come from us, please forward it to us here and we’ll let you know if it’s genuine.
Protecting your money
Fortunately, fraudulent landlords and letting agents are rare. The majority are genuine and treat their tenants fairly. However, it’s always worth checking to see if your landlord or agent is a member of an industry body such as the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), the National Landlords Association (NLA). ARLA Propertymark, or the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS). Membership of these schemes indicates that a letting agent/landlord is genuine and committed to improving standards in the Private Rented Sector. If you’re dealing with a letting agent, you can also check if they operate a client money protection scheme. The SAFEagent mark is an industry accreditation that shows an agent uses client money protection, which can also give you additional reassurance about the organization or person you’re dealing with.
How else can I protect myself online?
- Keep your passwords secret
- Where possible, use passwords that include numbers, capital letters, lower case letters and symbols to make them more secure
- Don’t write passwords down or save them in your phone
- Take a good look at emails before clicking on any link – if it looks fake, or the offer sounds too good to be true, then think twice
- You can also watch our video on ‘phishing’ to help you learn more about staying safe from fraudsters using email as a way to gain your personal information
As we said above, if you’re still not sure if an email has come from us, please forward it to us here and we’ll let you know if it’s genuine.