Fraud Prevention Tips

Apartment Tips provides advertising for apartment community owners and managers, so you as a prospective renter can learn all about their communities and available apartments. All the information in an apartment listing is provided by these community owners and managers, as is any information you might receive through other forms of communication. We will be using the term “Landlord” as we share these fraud prevention tips with you (by the way, these tips are for education purposes – they’re not legal advice from


Knowledge and awareness are the best defenses to prevent fraud. Online shopping is convenient and easy – and you can add a property with our Add a Listing tool. Most Landlords are honest, but occasionally an unscrupulous person will use the Internet to attract a victim. Don’t be a victim!


When a CoStar Verified® badge is displayed on a listing, it indicates that the apartment community has been verified by CoStar through internal screening and fraud-detection technology, as a part of our verification process.


  • WILL NEVER ask you for your password or PIN!
  • WILL NEVER ask you to send us any money for any reason!
  • DO NOT own or rent the apartments or other forms of housing that may be listed on our website.
  • DO NOT give instructions on how or where to send in payments such as security deposits or rent.
  • DO NOT act in any way as an agent for you or for the Landlord.
  • DO NOT take custody of any keys or act as a clearinghouse for your rental application, security deposit, or rent.
  • DO NOT ask you for personal or financial information via email.


Send and receive payment safely. Consider these tips in order to send payment to a Landlord or to receive access to an apartment.

  • If a rental offer looks too good to be true, it probably is! Maintain a healthy skepticism.
  • Verify the Landlord’s identity. Do addresses and names match up in public records or directories?
  • Be wary of sublet situations. Here at, we have heard about scams involving someone posing as a sublessor; you might get keys in exchange for your money, but the apartment you think you have rented may be occupied by a legitimate renter who was not at all a part of the scam.
  • Be cautious of an individual posing as Landlord or sublessor when they are someone outside of the US.
  • If at all possible, do not make a rental decision only from photos. Visit the apartment community!
  • If much of your rental transaction will be online, verify with whom you are communicating with. Never click on an apartment community, a Landlord, or sublessor via a link in an email. Always go directly to the site by typing in the URL.
  • Fraud deals often involve wire transfers, overpayment, or cashiers checks. Unusual requests involving the transaction may be a signal of a potential scam.
  • Use your best judgment in all transactions.
  • Report suspected fraudulent activity (see further information on this below).


Do not send personal or financial information (such as your social security number, credit card number, or checking account number) to a Landlord via email. Email communications are not secure.


Passwords, PINs, and Usernames

  • Never give out your usernames, passwords, or PINs to anyone.
  • Always make sure your usernames, passwords, and PINs are a combination of letters and numbers where applicable.
  • Change your usernames, passwords, and PINs as frequently as you can, and don’t use the same PIN or password for different accounts.
  • REMEMBER – (or its affiliated websites) will NEVER ask for your password or PIN.

Email Attachments

  • Be cautious about opening email attachments. Always make sure you scan them with anti-virus software first. Do not click on links within unsolicited email.
  • Do not click links inside an email you do not know is legitimate, even if it is sent from someone you know. Viruses are often hidden in seemingly harmless programs that people share for fun. Because many viruses make use of peoples’ address books, you may receive virus emails from people you know.
  • Contact the sender to make sure the email is legitimate, and scan it carefully. Avoid having email programs set to preview email, as this can open a virus email before you have a chance to scan it.

Payment Methods

  • Be extremely cautious about sending credit card account numbers via email. Requests for you to do so are often scam based.
  • When purchasing from a website (or in the case from a Landlord, from whom you are renting), make sure it is a secure site before submitting credit card information. Look for the tiny padlock icon that symbolizes a secure site, or that the web address starts with “https” (The “s” denotes a secure site.).
  • Credit card purchases can usually be disputed with the credit card company if a problem arises.
  • Remember that is NEVER going to ask you for your credit card account information!

Anti-Virus Software/Anti-Spyware and Firewalls

  • Protect your computer by using the most updated versions of anti-virus software to scan your system and e-mail for malicious viruses.
  • Use anti-spyware or adware programs to remove programs that track your Internet activity.
  • Use a firewall to make your computer invisible to outside attackers.
  • A firewall is especially critical if you have your computer on a cable or DSL Internet connection that is constantly connected to the Internet.

Security Updates for Operating Systems/Browsers

  • Make sure to download and install security updates for all browsers and operating systems in use on your computer frequently.
  • Keeping browser versions up-to-date is critical to computer security, and proper functionality of the latest security elements used in Internet e-commerce.


File a report. File a report at with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), and the Bureau of Justice Administration (BJA). IC3 gives victims of cyber crime a convenient and easy-to-use reporting mechanism. IC3 in turn alerts authorities by referring reports to the correct law enforcement or regulatory agencies at the federal, state, local, and international level.

Let us know about it. If you receive a suspicious email, report it to immediately. Forward the email to the customer service team at . Do not change the subject line or send it as an attachment. Simply forward the suspicious email message to us. We will contact you if we need additional information.


Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)

File a complaint

Better Business Bureau (BBB)

Be a Smarter Consumer

Tips to Avoid Online Escrow Fraud

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

Consumer Information to Guard Against Fraud

Western Union

Protect Yourself From Fraud

Important Information About Fraudulent Escrow Sites

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

Fake Seals and Phony Numbers: How Fraudsters Try to Look Legit

Looks Too Good To Be True

Website Developed and Maintained by a Joint Federal Law Enforcement and Industry Task Force