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Avoid Scams & Fraud

For the most up-to-date tips, visit staysafeonline.org

Scam Advisory
Never refund checks for security deposits, first month’s rent or utilities until you are sure the check you received has cleared (e.g., someone sends you a $5,000 check to “secure” a rental and asks for $4,000 of it back). Note: international checks take longer than domestic.

Posting

  • Don’t use your full name on the Internet (Your public name within the roommate section of the site defaults to your first name and last initial based on what you have entered in your user account information. You can change this to whatever you prefer.)
  • Be mindful of the fact that unintended viewers (such as a friend of someone who has a Roommate Profile) may be able to easily view your information.
  • Be especially careful about posting your exact location - feel free to use our Alternate Address option when filling out Property Location information.
  • Keep in mind that viewers may be able to find information about you elsewhere, so check your privacy settings on other social media sites.
  • Use a search engine to look for yourself online and see what information you can find. Remove any private information that you can, or ask whomever is responsible for the website to remove it for you.
  • Be careful about displaying your age online - feel free to unselect our Display my age on my profile box in the "Personal Info" section.

Emailing

  • Never contact anyone through an email address they mention in an email sent through our site. Always use the email form through our site or reply directly to an email sent from our site. This hides your email from a potential scammer and helps prevent future scams.
  • Don’t open strange messages or email attachments. Even if you know someone, sometimes their accounts can post things that they don’t want. If a post or message doesn’t look like it’s from your friend, it probably isn’t.

Meeting in Person

  • Arrange a phone conversation before meeting in person. Call from a restricted number, pay phone, etc. in order to mask your number.
  • Meet at a public place where you feel comfortable - never meet at a place of residence.
  • Meet in the daytime.
  • Tell a friend or family member what you are doing and where you are going. Arrange to call them when the meeting is over and/or when you are safely at home.
  • Consider bringing along a friend or two.
  • Be prepared to adjust your meeting plan or abandon it altogether if you feel uncomfortable at any point.
  • No matter how many times you have emailed or talked on the phone, if you haven't met someone in person, consider them a stranger.
  • Have clarity of mind - don't meet after a long day, after a party, etc.

Other

  • Trust your instincts. When in doubt, err on the side of caution.
  • Use other social sites or search engines to find out more about potential roommates. Check that their information is consistent across multiple sites.
  • Use a computer with safe Internet browsers and virus protection.
  • Never give out banking information.
  • Be cautious of people who express a desire to rent/sublease your property without seeing it first.
  • If you suspect Internet fraud, contact the police department.

Works Consulted