Adobe Stock Tom Baker

As rent prices have continued to increase, millions of people have been lured by fraudulent listings promising affordable housing, reports MarketWatch's Jacob Passy.

An estimated 43.1% of all renters have encountered a suspicious listing in their hunt for new housing, according to a survey conducted in June by real-estate website Apartment List. Over half of those people said they had reached out to the person behind the property listing before realizing it was a fake. Apartment List conducted a national survey of more than 1,100 renters and local surveys of between 50 and 54 renters in the 30 largest metropolitan areas across the country.

Rental scams can take many forms, the Apartment List report describes. In some cases, scammers will pose as a landlord for a real property that’s available in an attempt to get the would-be renter or buyer to hand over a deposit or some other payment such as a fee meant for a credit check. This commonly happens with vacant homes that are on the market.

While the vast majority of people who encounter fraudulent rentals don’t end up losing any money to the scam, that’s not the case for all renters. More than 6% of renters, or roughly 5.2 million people, reported a financial loss due to a rental scam. Younger adults, who are already more likely to be rent-burdened, are more likely to lose money in a rental scam — nearly one in 10 renters under the age of 30 has lost money in such a scenario. Of those who did lose money because of these scams, the median loss was $400. But for nearly a third of rental scam victims, losses exceeded $1,000. And when the cost is that high it can have disastrous consequences for the victims.

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