Rental crisis: Why this mark could save you thousands

tenants have been warned to look for specific brands in rental advertisements to avoid falling victim to a fraud who has swindled tens of thousands of dollars from desperate property hunters.

Real estate agents and owners in western australia The state’s consumer watchdog is urging them to watermark their listing photos as renters face fraud in one of Australia’s toughest and increasingly competitive markets. rental markets.

Snowshoe rentals in WA are on the up.

Twenty-one Western Australians have lost $41,000 to rental scammers this year; last year, 18 victims were robbed of $32,320, according to WA ScamNet.

The current scam involves fake listings for real properties posted on social media.

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Cinch Property Management has watermarked its listing at 1602/1 Geoffrey Bolton Avenue in Perth. (Domain)

Scammers manage to remain anonymous through direct messages and emails with vulnerable home hunters.

Tenants under pressure, navigating Perth’s cut-throat rental market, make quick decisions without checking the address and transfer the voucher and rent money to the scammer.

Watermarks of real estate agency names or logos are sometimes used for marketing purposes on property listing images.

However, WA Consumer Protection is encouraging more agencies and owners to flag publicity photos as a security step, to prevent criminals from stealing and misusing the images.

Perth’s rental market has adjusted over the last 12 months, to stand at 0.5 per cent, according to the latest vacancy data from Domain.

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Scam rental domain tenant
Agents William Porteous Properties International have listed 303/173 Mounts Bay Road in Perth, and their ads carry the brand. (Domain)

Real estate experts believe that a healthy and balanced rental market is one with 3% vacancy, offering choice for renters and fair prices for landlords.

Perth is Australia’s second tightest rental market behind Adelaide, which has a vacancy rate of 0.2 per cent.

These numbers contribute to a national vacancy rate of an all-time low of 0.9 percent.

Penny Lipscombe, acting executive director of WA Consumer Protection, warned that victims of rental scams could also be prone to identity theft.

“Social media users need to be mindful of the information they provide during these transactions, as people behind fake profiles may mine data that will enable them to commit future fraud,” Ms Lipscombe said in a statement.

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The WA consumer watchdog said renters should always meet face-to-face with a leasing agent. (This day)

“Suspected fake profiles should always be reported to the social media platform as they are likely to try to attack others as well.”

Consumer Protection has suggested that the real estate industry enact the simple anti-fraud measure.

“Watermarking may deter fraudsters from using such photos in a false advertisement, so I would encourage all property owners and managers to adopt this practice,” Ms Lipscombe said in the statement.

Rental scams have sprung up in the last two years while renters were unable to physically inspect homes due to pandemic restrictions.

But the falling vacancy rate has given new urgency and fear to the search.

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Prospective tenants are encouraged to have an in-person meeting with the landlord or their leasing agent, without exception.

“When looking for a new rental property, renters should be careful who they deal with on social media: if their personal information falls into the wrong hands, it can be used to steal their identity,” said Ms Lipscombe.

“Social network users should be aware of the information they provide during these transactions, as people behind fake profiles can extract data that allows them to commit future fraud.”

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