(WHTM) — With record-high home prices in 2021, many tri-staters are looking for rental homes, But, with that market red hot, too, it is easy to fall for a rental scam.

Amy Hairs, a minister at a small church, is looking for a renal home. Her prayers were answered when she found a great home listing on Craigslist: a four-bedroom, three-bath home for $1,100 a month.

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Just to be sure, Hairs drove by to have a look. When she arrived, it looked exactly like the pictures so she texted the landlord who said it was still available.

“He told me I would have to pay a 1200 dollar security deposit as well as the first month’s rent,” Hairs said.

But, it was the landlord’s next request that stopped her in her tracks.

“He wanted our Social and copy of our driver’s license. I told him I was not comfortable giving that information,” Hairs explained, and it was a good thing she didn’t because it was a rental scam. The house is really for sale, not for rent.

Luckily, Hair stopped right there, before giving out her Social Security number or sending any money. Other people, though, are not so fortunate. Stephanie Hollander was trying to sell her home two years ago when scammers reposted her listing and started taking money from people.

“We were contacted a week ago by a woman who said she had rented our home,” Hollander said.

So, don’t let this happen to you. The Federal Trade Commission says, be suspicious of rental listings if:

  • the landlord wants a deposit before you have met
  • you cannot go inside the home
  • they ask for a deposit via Venmo, Zelle or gift cards

Finally, do what Hairs did. If the landlord or their agent won’t meet you in person, tell them the deal is off, that way, you don’t waste your money.