This is a scam, right?
April 9, 2014 9:17 AM   Subscribe

A potential landlord is asking that I check my credit score online and bring them a copy of the results when I see the unit. I have no problem paying an application fee, but asking me to sign up for something online before seeing an apartment is not something I have done before. Seems like a scam to me.

Here is the content of their email:

"How's your day going? Here's some good news: the apartment's still available! We thought we had the place rented to a couple we showed it to today, but now it seems that they changed their mind, so we need to lease it as soon as possible. You were the second one to email me about it.

I am sure you will want to do a personal showing of the property, but my husband doesn't want me to advertise the address as a measure of safety. Last time we did that without verifying people, the empty property was broken into and vandalized. As you can imagine, we want to avoid that! You will be responsible for cable, internet, and phone, if you decide to have these services. Just to confirm, we DO allow pets at this property. The rental term is one year, but can be switched into a half year lease if preferred. We require one month notice before moving out, as a courtesy.

When you're ready to schedule an appointment to see the place, then please go to the link below to grab your free credit score. All of our tenants use this site because Transunion is widely trusted. Just fill out the form and indicate that you want the score. What is in the report isn't important to us, it's more of a formality to have it on file, to make sure there are no previous property related issues. You can get your free credit score at CLICK HERE

Keep in mind that we are only interested in the page about the rental history. That will be all you will need to bring with you to the showing. We'll also waive your security deposit if we see that your rating is above 560+.

Once you let me know that you have your credit history ready, then I'll personally schedule a walk through of the place. Once you see it, you'll fall in love!"

I guess I don't have a problem bringing my credit score to the landlord when they show me the apartment, but I don't want to use the web site they suggested, which is asking for me to sign up with a debit card. Are there any legitimate places online where I can find my credit score or should I forget about this whole thing?
posted by kittensofthenight to Home & Garden (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes, it's a scam.
posted by mikeand1 at 9:19 AM on April 9, 2014 [7 favorites]

Totally a scam. I doubt the apartment even exists.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:19 AM on April 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

posted by kittensofthenight at 9:19 AM on April 9, 2014

For future reference, you're entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the agencies. Official site is here
posted by damayanti at 9:20 AM on April 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is a common scam. I got three or four identical emails while apartment-hunting on Craigslist two years ago. They copy legitimate postings and remove the address so it's very difficult to distinguish them from real listings.
posted by phoenixy at 9:22 AM on April 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

It is so much a scam that it even has its own page on
posted by Betelgeuse at 9:24 AM on April 9, 2014 [11 favorites]

If you choose to reply, just reply back "I've got a copy of my credit report from 4/9/14 and will bring it with me when I come to see the unit. When can I come over?"

That takes care of the scammers. Obv don't click on their link. Use the free annual credit report.
posted by arnicae at 9:26 AM on April 9, 2014 [11 favorites]

Thanks mefi, I was momentarily doubting myself in the face of great rent.
That Scamwarners page is awesome by the way.
posted by kittensofthenight at 9:28 AM on April 9, 2014

The scam angle is well covered, but for future reference: If you *do* want a legitimate credit score place, I use when I need to get mine. It isn't free, but it isn't a scam either.
posted by HermitDog at 9:53 AM on April 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

"We'll also waive your security deposit if we see that your rating is above 560"

This is the big red flag for me. 560 is pretty bad.
posted by Slinga at 9:54 AM on April 9, 2014 [13 favorites]

And if you have a discover card, they feature it on their site when you log in as well.
posted by tilde at 9:58 AM on April 9, 2014

Yep, it's a scam. I got that exact e-mail recently.
posted by Jahaza at 10:03 AM on April 9, 2014

I should mention...the reason I reply to these guys is that my last place, which was a magical, amazing, wonderful rental, came my way after I got what was very clearly (to me) a scam email about the apartment.

I replied anyway, thinking that there was a 101% chance it was a scam, and it turned out to be totally valid and the email was written by someone who sounded like a scammer.

So I always reply, just never click.
posted by arnicae at 10:26 AM on April 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Another note: not sure how universal this is (only familiar with Montgomery County, MD) but a legitimate landlord should be able to run a credit report on an applicant through the county housing department. A legitimate landlord also should not be accepting a credit report that an applicant brings with them, since that makes it very easy to modify or fake. The fact that they're explicitly asking you to run your own credit has scam all over it.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 10:33 AM on April 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Even if it wasn't a scam you wouldn't want to rent from people so cheap they won't pay to run their own credit checks.
posted by phearlez at 10:43 AM on April 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Actually, an application fee (which contains the credit check fee) is pretty normal.
posted by destructive cactus at 10:47 AM on April 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

We just paid for our credit checks for a perfectly nice house with a perfectly decent landlord. It was an actual TransUnion SmartMove check where he sent us requests via the site to complete the forms. There were no other application fees.

I'm pretty sure we used a very similar process when we were landlords, and we are not bad people.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:48 AM on April 9, 2014

In today's Bay Area rental market, it is 100% normal for landlords/property managers to expect that you'll bring a copy of your credit report to the open house. They'll also require a copy of your bank statement that shows adequate funds, and a check for first, last, and security deposit. Some expect letters of reference from previous landlords. If you don't put those items in the hands of the landlord as soon as you've walked in the door, someone else will and you won't get the apartment.

I'm not saying this particular email wasn't a scam, because that's been answered already, but it's not always a scam to supply your own credit report. (To me, the fact that they wouldn't tell you the address of the apartment but still wanted your financial vitals is a bigger red flag.)

I'm sorry this was a scam. Hang in there! Apartment hunting is super stressful but you'll find a good place.
posted by jesourie at 10:56 AM on April 9, 2014

This definitely was a scam but I will jump on the bandwagon that I have been asked to bring credit reports and bank statements with me when I went to look at two different apartments I ended up renting.
posted by mrdrummed at 10:59 AM on April 9, 2014

This sounds like a scam. It's your potential landlord's responsibility to check your credit and background, not yours. Anyone can doctor up a fake credit report, criminal history records, et cetera -- which is why that sort of thing should be verified by the person who wants the verification.

Furthermore, renting an apartment without seeing it first? No. Not unless it's some big, managed complex where all the apartments are identical, and even in that case I'd ask to see a model apartment first. (Also, in that case, the company is likely to have their own methods to check credit and the likes.)

Move along. Don't give this person any information. There are plenty of other apartments to be had.
posted by tckma at 11:53 AM on April 9, 2014

I just wanted to echo what Jesourie said.

It's been several years since I was looking for a new place, but last time I was looking for an apartment in the Boston area several potential landlords (who were completely above board) asked be to supply my own credit report. These were usually very small landlords that just thought it was easier to have the potential tenants provide it rather than to run a credit check themselves.

I'm not saying the email is or isn't a scam, but it's certainly the case the sometimes legitimate landlords ask for this (especially in tight rental markets).
posted by dyslexictraveler at 12:25 PM on April 9, 2014

This particular email is definitely a scam- they also didn't answer any of the questions I asked about first/last/deposit, pet deposit, bills, or about the move in date- but its good to know that simply asking for a credit report isn't a red flag. I'd never seen that before.

Welp anyone hear about any great places in South Seattle feel free to memail me :/
posted by kittensofthenight at 12:32 PM on April 9, 2014

Incidentally, I was helping a friend apartment hunt in nyc last week and I emailed a couple brokers about stuff we saw on Craigslist and got the EXACT SAME email that you did! Complete with the whole bit about the couple backing out at the last minute and I was the second person to email them, and the husband is nervous to reveal the address, etc. So yeah, as everyone else has says, total scam! Which apparently is all over the country, too. I thought it was a shady Brooklyn broker thing :)
posted by silverstatue at 7:21 PM on April 9, 2014

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