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AG Nessel Issues Listing Scams Consumer Alert for Rental Assistance Day of Action

LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is issuing warning signs of rental scams today, which is the national Rental Assistance Day of Action.  

The day of action was organized to promote the historic funding available for emergency rental assistance through the American Rescue Plan. Also today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) launched a new tool that allows renters and landlords to find information on rental assistance in their area.

Locally, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority used federal dollars to create the COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) program, which provides resources to help tenants facing pandemic-related hardships avoid eviction while also ensuring landlords can recoup owed rent.

While support is available for those who need it, it's also important to remember that bad actors are always looking for opportunities to scam people currently searching for a place to live.

Nessel's new Rental Listing Scams Consumer Alert explains ways bad actors will promote a property that isn't a legitimate listing in an effort to cheat an interested renter out of money.

Fraudulent rental listings typically happen in two ways: 

  • Hijacked Ads - Some scammers may copy a listing from a legitimate real estate listing and place it on a different website. It all looks legitimate, but in reality the bad actor is promoting a property they're not affiliated with.  
  • Phantom Rentals - Other scammers may actually make up a listing in an effort to cheat an unsuspecting renter out of money. These will often offer rent that is far lower than other listings in the area. 

"So many people are navigating the housing market right now, which makes it even more important to remain vigilant against scams," Nessel said. "Never pay for a rental property without seeing it in person and meeting with the landlord. You should also search the listing online to ensure it wasn't copied fraudulently. Do your homework and trust your instincts if something feels off about a listing - even if it offers a big savings in your rent payment."

More tips on how to avoid a rental listing scam can be found in the consumer alert.

The Department provides a library of resources for consumers to review anytime on a variety of topics  as well as additional resources for landlords and tenants.

Your connection to consumer protection is just a click or phone call away. Consumer complaints can be filed online at the Attorney General's website, or by calling 877-765-8388.


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