Finding and being approved for a great rental can be a hard and emotional process. Unfortunately, it can be made exponentially more difficult if a rental scam is thrown into the equation. Rental scams cause a lot of intense emotions such as embarrassment, anger, and fear.
Looking back, most people who have been scammed realize that there were a lot of red flags, and they often feel upset with themselves for missing them. The emotions that they feel, especially the embarrassment, can cause them to hide and try to forget what happened. The problem with that is not pursuing justice just helps to perpetuate the scam artist into doing it again.
When you take action against the person who scammed you, it can lead to retrieval of your money, peace of mind, and help to prevent them from scamming anyone else. While it can bring up emotions and memories that you would rather not have, the satisfaction of ensuring the criminal is held accountable and cannot scam anyone else far supersedes them.
Now that you’ve decided to take action on the apartment rental scam, here are seven things that you can do:
- Call the police
Your first step once you’ve realized that you’ve been scammed is to contact the police. It can be a hard thing to do, especially if you’re feeling any shame over the ordeal, but it’s really important that you do. There’s a good chance that this scammer has done this before and the police already know about him. If that is the case, then the information that you provide could be essential to the case.
If they don’t know about this scammer, then you’re doing your community a favor by alerting the police to him. And there’s always a chance that they could find him just from your report, preventing him from harming anyone else, and possibly even retrieving your money for you.
Making a police report can seem a little intimidating, especially if you have strong negative emotions connected to your ordeal. But the outcome of reporting will likely be very positive and make it all worthwhile.
- Talk to the rental ad publisher
Where did you find the ad for this apartment rental in the first place? If it was through a print or online publisher, it is imperative that you let them know about the scam artist who is placing ads in their publication or website. Most publishers want to know when scammers are taking advantage of their resources. Find the phone number or email and alert them that they published at least one ad from a scammer. They will work to prevent them from posting any more ads and may even have information that is helpful to the police.
- Take appropriate steps to file a complaint
In the United States, you can file a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Doing so will bring public awareness to the scam and can help others from falling prey to it.
- Learn from your experience
Realize that being scammed is not your fault, it is only the fault of the criminal. That being said, there may be some things that happened that you are able to look back on and learn from. Negative experiences are often the things that catapult us into growth. Allow positivity to come from this experience by considering what happened and learning from it.
- Learn about red flags to make sure you will spot them in the future
When you’ve been scammed it’s easy to blame yourself. The truth is, there are often red flags that occur, but most people wouldn’t even think twice about them. Take some time to learn about the usual red flags that occur during a rental scam. Once you have the knowledge, you can have the peace of mind that it will never happen again. You’ll also be able to spread your knowledge to help others recognize red flags.
- Get back on that bike
Once you have been the victim of a rental scam, it can be very hard to start looking again. Everyone needs shelter though, and you need to find the perfect place to live.
When you’re a kid and you fall off a bike, your mom tells you to get right back up and on the bike. She knows that the longer you wait after the fall, the more afraid you’ll be to try again. You’ll dwell on the fright you felt. You’ll think about your injuries. Soon enough, you’ll decide that you’d rather be safe on the ground than attempt to ride again. Your mom knows that the best thing to do is ride immediately and then the fear and memories will fade.
It’s the same with being scammed. If you wait for a while, it’s going to be difficult to start looking and trusting people. But if you get back on that bike pretty quickly, things will go smoothly, and you’ll end up finding the right place without any trouble.
So don’t dwell. Report your scam to the police and then start looking for a place to rent.
- Share your story with others
When people share their stories with others, it aids in the healing process. Keeping it bottled in can cause resentment, but talking with others or writing it down will help release it.
Sharing your story has a number of benefits. Not only will it help you heal, but it can also save others from the pain that you went through. When people hear your story, they will become more aware and able to avoid being scammed themselves. Sharing your story will also provide an opportunity for people to share their stories with you. Hearing about the experiences of others will help you process and move forward.
Being scammed is a scary and angering experience, but it’s important that you move forward in your life. Let go of your shame, take the necessary steps to report and learn, and then let yourself continue by finding a great home and sharing your experience with others.