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HOUSTON (KIAH) — Rental scams are happening more across the country and folks in Houston are the latest among those increasing numbers.

Awareness is increasing in our area through efforts of Clear Channel Outdoor, the Houston Association of Realtors and Crime Stoppers of Houston. They have launched a county-wide public awareness campaign in both English and Spanish on rental scams since minorities are becoming a growing target for scammers.

According to research conducted by Apartment List, 5.2 million U.S. renters have lost money from rental fraud. 

How rental scammers target you

  • A common scam involves fake rental advertisements which involves a scammer taking a legitimate listing that is for sale.
  • They then create an ad on various sites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace at an enormously discounted rent price.
  • The scammer attempts to collect a deposit or lease payments from a potential tenant.
  • Once they do, they disappear, and the renter never hears from them again.

Scams targeting minorities

There are many variations of rental scams. In recent months, HAR has seen an increase in Houstonians becoming the targets of these rental scams. Scammers are disproportionately targeting minorities, people who may not speak English, as well as people who may not be familiar with the rental process.

How to report a rental scam

Wednesday morning at 10 a.m., City of Stafford Mayor Cecil Willis will join in support of the campaign and Stafford Police Chief Richard Ramirez will discuss how to report to law enforcement should you find yourself the target of a rental scam.

Spreading the message

Clear Channel Outdoor is donating advertising space on its digital billboard network throughout the area and on traditional billboards to reach consumers on freeways as well as neighborhoods.  These messages will be displayed throughout 2022 and create nearly 36 million market impressions in the first month of the campaign alone.