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Handy tips on how to avoid becoming a victim to online fraud.

Moving abroad for a job is always an exciting prospect but the stress of having to find somewhere to live can have its challenges – especially if you are not aware of the housing market or practices in the country that you are hoping to move to. Combine this with the fact that recent figures from the BBC have revealed that there has been an increase in online rental fraud and the prospect can become all the more daunting.  

With this in mind, Jake Willis - co-founder of London Shared.co.uk - has put together some handy tips on how to avoid becoming a victim to online fraud that should make navigating the property market in the UK a stress-free experience. 

Deal with a trusted and reputable company 
If you are using the Internet to search for property abroad, be sure to use a reputable company that has the relevant credentials. Check the policies the company holds in regards to clarifying the validity of the landlords and properties listed online and be sure to question this if it is not clear.  
Similarly, by reading the reviews of former tenants listed on Google, you will be able to gain a sense of the type of company that you are dealing with. At London Shared, we have worked hard to ensure that we make the experience of letting out a property a comfortable one for both landlords and tenants, and so are keen to share the reviews of the Tenants that have used London Shared.
Checking to see whether the company has an offline presence can also help you when you are determining the validity of a company. London Shared have a physical as well as online presence, meaning that we have people on hand to discuss any enquiries or concerns about a property that you may have. We will even organise property viewings via Skype for those that are living abroad so that you are safe in the knowledge that what we list are a true representation of the listings. 

Be sure to ask for the appropriate paperwork and documentation 
When searching for a rental property, be sure to ask for the appropriate paperwork and documentation to show proof of ownership whether dealing with a landlord through online sites or in person.
At London Shared, we conduct a variety of checks to assure that a landlord is the legal owner of a property that we are letting. As well as asking for a copy of their passport and proof of address, we also check the title deed against Land Registry to confirm the legal name of the owner of property. You can conduct your own search of the title deed of the property through Land Registry for £4. 

Do your research
As the saying goes, “If an offer looks too good to be true, it probably is”, so be sure to do your research when you are searching for a property to rent abroad. Spend some time finding out what the average rent is in the area that you are hoping to move too. If a rent on a property looks particularly low compared to other properties in the area, it is important to find out why this is in order to ensure that do not find yourself falling victim to online fraud.
If you are concerned about this, be sure to ask for the appropriate paperwork to clarify proof of ownership. 

Never send money until you can verify the authenticity of a company or landlord 
Unfortunately a lot of people end up losing money through online fraud because they haven’t carried out any simple checks, usually because they are worried if they do not move quickly they will miss out on a fantastic deal. Make sure the person you are sending money to is the person they are claiming to be.
Similarly, be very wary if you are asked to pay in cash or wire transfer a deposit (in fact we would recommend you do not do this at all). When it comes to paying rents and deposits, always pay these into a bank account. This way you will be able to track payments. 

 


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How to avoid being a victim of online rental fraud
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