LOS ANGELES – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today issued a consumer alert urging Californians to make informed decisions and protect themselves from rental and moving scams. Summer is a popular time for traveling, vacations, and moves to new houses and apartments. Unfortunately, scammers are also aware of these summertime transitions and scams peak during this time of year as families move to new homes and students move in and out of new housing arrangements.
The Attorney General encourages consumers to be vigilant and ensure that rental listings are legitimate before leasing a rental property. Scam artists often advertise properties at incredibly low prices to lure unsuspecting renters. Once hooked, the consumer may learn that the rental property address is fictitious, the property is unavailable because it is owned by other people, or that the property is for sale or in foreclosure proceedings. Consumers should be wary of high-pressure tactics, especially when scammers urge them to wire money without viewing the property, reviewing the rental agreement, or meeting the prospective landlord. The Attorney General encourages consumers to fully research rental listings by visiting the premises and reviewing all the terms in a lease agreement before exchanging money to reserve a rental property.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
The Attorney General offers California consumers the following tips when renting properties and using moving companies:
The Department of Consumer Affairs has provided a useful guide for renters entitled California Tenants: A Guide to Residential Tenants’ and Landlords’ Rights and Responsibilities.
The California Bureau of Real Estate provides information to consumers regarding renting properties.
The CPUC’s booklet provides guidelines on the use of moving companies.
The U.S. Department of Transportation provides information on the rights and responsibilities of both consumers and movers in a booklet entitled Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move.
FMCSA’s regulations are designed to protect the interests of consumers. FMCSA’s website has information (including links to applicable federal regulations) regarding the use of moving companies. Additionally, the FMCSA’s Ready to Move? brochure also has helpful information.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE THE VICTIM OF A RENTAL OR MOVING SCAM
The FMCSA investigates moving complaints and may provide recourse for consumers who have been victimized. If you are the victim of a moving scam, please contact the FMCSA.
The California Public Utilities Commission also regulates privately owned transportation companies and handles consumer complaints regarding moving scams.
California district attorneys are available to assist with circumstances in which consumers are victimized by moving companies that are engaged in criminal conduct. If you are taken advantage of by such a moving company, you may locate and contact your local district attorney.
The California Department of Justice protects the rights of consumers and collects complaints on rental and moving scams to identify patterns of wrongful activity. To submit a complaint to the California Department of Justice regarding a rental or moving scam, please use one of the following complaint forms: