The German housing market is tense and housing has become one of the hottest political debates. As if looking for an apartment weren't already difficult enough, there is now a threat of further grief for those looking for an apartment: Fraud with apartment advertisements. Fraudsters place fake apartment advertisements online in order to obtain the personal data of interested parties - with serious consequences for their creditworthiness. Read how you can identify fake apartments on the Internet and protect your SCHUFA score .
This is how apartment advertisement fraud works
Anyone who has been looking for a place to stay in the recent past can testify to how exhausting it can be to find an apartment. Especially in the big cities of the republic, good and cheap properties can be rented in no time. Fraudsters take advantage of the situation. You place fake apartment advertisements on relevant real estate portals. The apartments do not even exist. In order to attract as many interested parties as possible, the descriptions are partly peppered with flowery promises or are offered at low rental prices.
Two things can happen to anyone who reacts to fake apartment advertisements
Scam # 1: The scammers claim the apartment is available and can be viewed soon. However, they do require that money be transferred before the viewing. The reason given is, for example, that interested parties should prove their real interest with the transfer. But other excuses are also used. Once the money has been transferred, it is no longer possible to establish contact with the supposed landlord, the viewing never takes place and the transferred amount is gone.
Scam # 2: In this scam, the fraudsters are targeting your personal information. They therefore ask you to send a copy of your identity card in advance. The criminals then use your identity in illegal business to steal property or money in your name.
Fake apartment advertisements: What are the fraudsters doing with your data?
With the stolen data, the fraudsters go on a shopping spree and take out installment loans for expensive purchases in electronics stores or furniture stores. In addition to your identity, the criminals also provide incorrect account details so that the installments are never paid. Since the loans are in your name, but you have no idea what it is, you are piling up in debt. These debts lead to negative SCHUFA entries .
You usually only notice something when the SCHUFA score is already in the bucket. For example, you may suddenly be denied purchases with installment payments or your overdraft facility is abruptly canceled. If this happens to you, it is advisable to act quickly. Obtain current SCHUFA information and look for entries that you cannot explain. In order to have an inadmissible negative entry that is based on fraud with apartment advertisements deleted, you must contact the police and file a criminal complaint. You can also do this online. You must then report to SCHUFA as a victim of identity fraud. SCHUFA can then delete negative entries that fraudsters have traded for you and your SCORE will be restored. In addition, it is important to report the fraud to the real estate portal in order to protect other unsuspecting apartment hunters from the same scammers.
How to recognize fake apartments on the Internet
Non-existent bogus apartments can often be recognized by looking closely at the following points:
- Bargain price
Fake apartment advertisements are intended to attract as many interested parties as possible, which is why a price is often given that is below the local rent index. You can obtain the rental price customary in your region from the municipality. Use the rent index for orientation when looking for an apartment. Bargain prices are an alarm signal, especially in metropolitan areas and areas where there is a shortage of housing.
- Contradictions between image and text
Take a close look at the pictures and description and pay attention to possible contradictions. As an example: Is a furnished apartment more luxuriously equipped than fits the monthly rent?
- Pictures like from the catalog
You should be suspicious of particularly high-quality pictures, the photos of perfectly lit interiors often come from hotel or real estate brochures. However, images that look average are also used for fake apartment advertisements and can be fake. Use the so-called reverse image search to check whether the same photos have been used elsewhere.
- Pecuniary claims
Whether as evidence of genuine interest, as a deposit for the viewing or for sending the apartment keys, whoever asks you to pay before viewing the apartment has no good intentions. Reputable real estate agents and owners do not charge prospective buyers for any money before the property has been viewed. Therefore, never pay in advance.
- Request for personal information
If you are required to show your identity card, passport, proof of income or SCHUFA information before you have even entered the apartment, it is very likely that it is a fake apartment. Fraudsters place fake apartment advertisements with non-existent bogus apartments in order to gain access to this sensitive data.
Always be careful about cheap rental offers
If a real estate advertisement sounds too good to be true, you should pay attention because it is often the result of fake apartment advertisements. Pay attention to the details when looking for an apartment and do not send money or your personal information until you have viewed the apartment. If you are caught by fraudsters, turn on the police, inform the real estate portal and SCHUFA. In this way you can protect other apartment hunters and your SCHUFA score.