There are plenty of downsides to inflation and rising interest rates, and one of the biggest is that thousands of people who had hoped to become homeowners have been forced to rent or continue renting because mortgages have become more expensive.

The average American renter is now paying $1,326 month, according to, and the average rent in Winnebago County is $606 per month for a one-bedroom, $899 for a two-bedroom, and $1,085 for a 3-bedroom place, says

You can see why scammers might want to grab a piece of that action.

FOR RENT sign in the window of an old brick building
No phone, no pool, no pets. No cigarettes, either. (Getty Images)
Close up of lease agreement empty document with pen
Just sign here, and initial here, here, and here. (Getty Images)

Illinois' Rental Market Has Heated Up, And That Sometimes Causes People To Make Quick (and bad) Decisions About Renting A Place

Dennis Horton, Director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) says that scammers try to create a false sense of urgency by telling you that lots of other people are interested in renting the property. They'll quickly hit you up for a deposit, along with the 1st month's rent in order to secure your rental.

Here's how they set you up, according to the Rockford BBB:

Victims respond to an online rental listing that touts a beautiful home, low rent, and great amenities. It looks legitimate; con artists often use real photos and descriptions stolen from other websites. The “landlord” replies to your message claiming to be out of
town, in the hospital, or any other excuse why they are unable to show the property.”

Apartment door number close-up
Getty Images
a lease agreement waiting to be signed with house keys
Getty Images

Victims Can Also Be Hit For Application Fees, Deposits, Credit Check Fees, And Sometimes Advance Rent Before They Realize They Are Dealing With Fraud

No matter the details, the result is the same once you send the money. The “landlord” will stop responding to messages and disappear. Renters reported to BBB Scam Tracker losing thousands after paying fees to hold an apartment, making a deposit, and paying the first month’s rent.

Here's what you should do to avoid this happening to you:

  • There are many great and trustworthy rental firms and agents, so do your research
  • Watch out for deals that are too good.  Scammers lure you in by promising low rents, extra amenities, and a great location. If the price seems much better than elsewhere, it may be a scam.
  • Search online for similar properties. Do a quick search for the listing, scammer’s email address, or phone number. If you find the same ad listed in other cities, that’s a huge red flag. 
  • See the property in person. Don’t send money to someone you’ve never met for an apartment you haven’t seen. If you can’t visit an apartment or house yourself, ask someone you trust to go and confirm that it is what was advertised.
  • Don’t pay a stranger with cash transfer apps. Many scammers now ask for payments through peer-to-peer (P2P) apps instead of wired funds or prepaid debit/gift cards. Only use these apps with people you know. It's okay to pay a landlord you trust with Venmo, Zelle, or another P2P app, but don't use this payment method to secure an apartment or pay a deposit. 

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