For many, apartment hunting can be a tiring process. Not only are you constantly trying to find a location that is within your budget and has the features you need, but you must also consider your commute and surroundings. As such, it can feel like a massive weight off your shoulders when you find the perfect location. However, after applying, the landlord never reaches out, and you notice that your credit score has dropped drastically. If this reflects your circumstances, you may be a victim of rental identity theft. Keep reading to learn more and why you should connect with a San Diego County identity theft lawyer as soon as possible.

What Is Rental Identity Theft?

Rental identity theft occurs anytime someone lists a rental property to collect personal and financial information from unsuspecting individuals. Generally, when applying for an apartment or other rental unit, you must provide considerable personal information, including your social security number. This is because most landlords and property management companies want to check your credit to see if you will be a risky renter. However, others can take advantage of unsuspecting individuals and use this to gain access to their personal information.

There are different forms of fake rental listings, which include creating fake listings of properties that don’t exist, making duplicate ads for rental properties currently available through legitimate agencies, and advertising units as “lease-free.”

What Are the Signs a Rental Is Fake?

If you are currently searching for an apartment, there are steps you can take to help reduce the risk of applying for a fake unit. Generally, you’ll want to research the property carefully, such as checking on the internet to ensure that the property exists and the building matches the photos on the listing.

Next, you’ll want to ensure that the price is realistic for the area you want to rent in. Though the massive three-bedroom apartment listed for $1,000 per month in Coronado may seem like a steal, given the average price of rentals in that neighborhood, it is most likely a fake listing to collect the personal information of unsuspecting individuals.

Additionally, if the landlord or leasing manager refuses to meet with you or won’t let you see the unit, this can be a sign that you’re being scammed. Generally, you’ll want to meet with this person to ensure they are a real person and can show you the real property.

If you believe you’ve been scammed by a landlord, it’s in your best interest to connect with an experienced attorney. Unfortunately, identity theft can be devastating, causing you to suffer emotionally and financially. As such, working with a consumer attorney can help you fight for the justice you deserve. At Barthel Legal, we understand how upsetting it can be to learn you were taken advantage of. That’s why our team is ready to fight for you. Connect with us today to learn how we can help you during these challenging times.