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Don’t be fooled: Internet scam artists bait tenants with unbelievable deals | News

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Imagine a recently renovated 1,600-square-foot home on the west end of Owensboro with a garage and workshop renting for $550 a month.

Utilities included, no less.

Dogs and cats are welcome.

Appliances are furnished.

Does that sound too good to be true?

That’s a current listing on Craigslist, and it’s a rental scam.

At least one Owensboro resident, who asked to remain anonymous, fell for it last week. He lost $1,500 — a security deposit and first and last month’s rent — by sending money through Zelle before viewing the property, signing a lease or meeting the fraudulent landlord.

Through a series of text messages, the scam artist posed as the homeowner, who reportedly had moved to Texas. The keys to the house were in Texas, too, but were promised to be sent by FedEx overnight — after the $1,500 was received.

The keys never came, and the imaginary FedEx tracking number mysteriously went missing after the first day.

Several other locals might have been swindled by the same scammer, but they drove by to check out the house. That’s when they noticed a Farmer’s House Real Estate sign in the front yard that read: For Sale.

During the first couple of days the bogus rental appeared on Craigslist, up to 10 people called Brad Cecil, a Realtor at Farmer’s House and the property’s listing agent. They asked whether the house was for rent or for sale.

Cecil was quick to tell them the home was not for rent; it is for sale only.

It’s not the first time he’s been through this. Craigslist rental scams have been going on for about five years, Cecil said.

“They’re getting a little more sophisticated about it,” Cecil said.

Some scammers scour obituaries or public property records for information, he said. They use familiar-sounding names to make it seem as though they know people in the area.

It’s easy to copy and repost online photos and descriptions from legitimate real estate listings, making phony rentals look as honest as any.

But, as crafty as these swindlers are, some telltale signs give them away pretty quickly.

Red flagsBetsy Garant, Realtor and property manager at Rose Realty, said scammers have copied her firm’s rentals and posted them as their own on Craigslist.

When she finds out a listing is part of a scam, she reports it to Craigslist.

Garant gives some tips for spotting bad actors:

If the deal is too good to be true, that’s the first clue people may be dealing with internet fraud.

“We do not rent to anyone sight unseen,” she said.

Also, professional property managers never keep prospective tenants from viewing properties.

Property management companies do not ask for money before would-be tenants have seen the rental property and know they want it, Garant said.

Legitimate property managers ask for proof of income and work. They run credit reports and require applications.

If someone acting as a landlord says bad credit and prior felony convictions don’t matter, it’s likely a scam.

Finally, con artists often have some far-fetched story that sets up roadblocks to renting the property through well-established rental practices, Garant said. “(The rental) always comes with a runaround.”

The M-I posed as a prospective tenant on the Craigslist home on the west side of Owensboro that reportedly was listed for rent at $550 a month.

The reporter could not talk to anyone. All communication was done by text and email.

When the reporter asked to view the home, the reply was: “Like I said in my previous email am out of state, but I can send you pictures of the interior.”

When pressed for the keys to view the house, the scammer wrote: “I don’t trust anyone with my keys. I don’t trust anyone with my house. But I can ship the keys and document to you once you are chosen as the tenant. Through FedEx next day delivery.”

The reporter asked how tenants are selected.

The reply: Tenants must send a $500 security deposit “so we can know you are serious about the house.”

Craigslist offers an “Avoid Scams” link on its website.

“Deal locally, face-to-face — follow this one rule and avoid 99% of scam attempts,” the link reads.

Other tips include never submit payments to people without meeting them first, beware of any offers involving shipping and never wire funds through Western Union.

Any message asking people to access or check Craigslist voicemails is fraudulent, the company’s website reports. “No such service exists.”

Owensboro Police Department had two reports of online rental scams in 2019 and two so far this year, said Andrew Boggess, public information officer.

Of the four, one was on Craigslist, two were on Facebook and the other was HousesForRent.ws.

Last year, a total of $500 was lost, OPD records show.

No money was lost in the two scams reported to the police department this year, Boggess said. (The M-I’s source who lost $1,500 last week had not yet filed a report by the time OPD searched its records.)

“But many don’t get reported to us,” Boggess said. “Some may get reported to the Attorney General’s Office, the FBI — Internet Crimes Complaint Center (or) another agency like Daviess County Sheriff Department or Kentucky State Police. And some never get reported to law enforcement. … Unfortunately, I know there are many that never get reported.”

DCSD officials said the department did not have any reports of internet rental scams during the past few years.

The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office did not respond to requests for information by deadline.

Karen Gross, president of the Greater Owensboro Realtors Association, is a Realtor with Century 21 Partners.

In the past, internet frauds have stolen her houses listed for sale and posted them as fake rentals in an effort to scam the public.

“I would get call after call after call,” Gross said of tenants eager to land a too-good-to-be-true deal.

Instead of going it alone, Gross recommends using a professional property management firm.

“Going through a professional is your best bet … ,” she said.

For tenants who don’t go that route, a good rule of thumb is to meet in person with any potential landlord, Gross said.

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Business Loans – Make The Right Choice!

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Your business needs funding and there’s no denying that! ‘You need money to make money’ and this is most applicable in the business world! While it is fairly easy to start with an awesome idea, to make a business profitable, you need to invest a good chunk of capital.

Whether to buy equipment or hire the right minds, you need capital! And the best way to go about it is to search for the ‘right’ business loan solution. Finding the ‘right’ one amongst the plethora of available options is a tricky decision.

You’ll be under stress to match the repayment frequency. And thus, your business will suffer. Hence, finalizing the right business financing solution after analyzing your business structure, repayment terms, cash-flow, and urgency is the best practice.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of which business financing solution or small business loan will help your business better!

1. For Real Estate – SBA

SBA loan is one of the most popular loans for small business owners. This is pretty straightforward to understand but involves extensive paperwork. If you need a place to kickstart your business, this is most suited for you.

It is issued by a private lending party or a bank. But the interesting part is that this loan can be guaranteed up to 85% by the federal agency—Small Business Administration (SBA). Hence, lending institutions are free and content to give the loan.

The best things about this loan are the lowest down payments and low-interest rates. If you wish to pay in the very long term, you can do so. An SBA loan involves a lot of flexibility. The condition being you should have the right financial service provider to guide you.

2. For An Equipment Or Any One-Off Loan – Equipment Financing, Term Loan

Do you need a new computer, or a tablet for your employee, or maybe a vehicle for your business’ delivery needs? Equipment financing is best suited for such kinds of needs. You can also get up to 100% financing solutions.

But there is one drawback that you should be aware of. As long as the repayments are done on time, you’ll continue to have access to the equipment. But the moment you fail short of your commitment, the lending institution has completed control over ceasing it.

A business term loan is another solution for this kind of requirement. Term loans are based on the ‘term’ that can be anywhere from 1 to 5 years. So, the repayment has to be made in that time-frame. If you’re looking for business loans in Edgewater, NJ, this will be just about right for you!

3. Need To Balance Cash Flow – Business Line of Credit

Business Line of Credit is the best financing solution that can help you with balancing your cash flow or handling any emergencies.

You get access to a limited amount of funds for a set period of time that you need to pay with interest and as soon as you pay it back, your specific balance sheet is turned back to ‘0’. This indicates that you’re again eligible for using that fund.

You can do it repetitively. There is no drawback to this mechanism. So every time you have an emergency fund need, you can look towards the business line of credit.

The only shortcoming of this system is that the interest rate is high and may require collaterals for approval. However, it is one of the most appealing choices if you need capital and have a bad credit score!

4. Credit Card Based Businesses – Merchant Cash Advance

Do you own a business that involves payments via credit cards? If yes, then the merchant cash advance is the right solution for you.

A business like retail or food chain that makes use of credit card transactions the most, can utilize merchant cash advance to boost its business. The way this financing system works is, the lender will enquire about your daily credit card transactions to the terminal provider and get your exact details. Then, he will compare it with the asked amount. If both are in accordance, you’ll become eligible for the advance.

The repayment term is interesting for this financing solution. Instead of getting a fixed rate, the advance provider will give you the figure in percentage. So every day if you make $1000 and the decided percentage is 5, then $50 will be ‘withheld’.

A merchant cash advance acts more like an investment than a loan!

5. Have No Collateral – Invoice Financing, Equipment Financing

Not all businesses have the luxury of putting collateral on the line and getting access to the desired fund. If you fall into the same category, you do not need to worry! Invoice financing can help you out even in this crunch situation.

Your account receivables serve as collateral in this financing solution and can help you get a loan up to 85% of its worth.

The only downside is the interest rate that is marginally higher than the traditional solutions.

Bonus: For A Small Duration – Short Term Loan

What if you need a loan just for 18 months? You have some debt or need to manage the cash flow, but your requirement is small. Which loan is right for you?

Well, you can opt for a short term loan. This loan gives you instant access to a lump sum of money that should be paid within the next 18 months.

The best part about this loan is that bad credit doesn’t bother the process!

This can also support businesses that need temporary loans to manage or settle a few things. Businesses that do not need some loan that lasts for years!

But just like all other financing solutions, this loan as well comes with a few drawbacks.

The first one being the annual cost will be slightly towards the higher side and the second being that a few businesses may find it hard to cope-up with the weekly payments.

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Financial advisor Helen Baker shares the six saving tricks to help you save THOUSANDS

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A leading financial advisor has shared the saving tricks that will help you to save thousands in a short amount of time, including adopting the 50/30/20 method and never signing up for financial products on your partner’s behalf.

Helen Baker, from Queensland explained that if this year has shown us anything, it’s that you need to have some spare money in the bank in case of loss of income.

Helen revealed the top tips and tricks to help you save tens of thousands of dollars, no matter what your salary or financial goals are.

Helen Baker (pictured), from Queensland, shared the saving tricks that will help you to save thousands in a short amount of time

Helen Baker (pictured), from Queensland, shared the saving tricks that will help you to save thousands in a short amount of time

1. Use the 50/30/20 strategy to control spending

The first way that Helen said you can save a bit more than you already do is by adopting the 50/30/20 strategy to control your spending.

‘This simple yet effective budgeting method involves dividing your after-tax income into three categories,’ she told FEMAIL.

Put 50 per cent of your net income towards ‘must-haves’ like rent, utility bills, school fees and groceries, then reserve 30 per cent for your ‘wants’, like dining out, fashion and entertainment.

Finally, Helen said you need to keep 20 per cent back for loan repayments or building up your savings.

This simple approach will help you to save thousands over the course of a single year.

The first way that Helen said you can save a bit more than you already do is by adopting the 50/30/20 strategy to control your spending (stock image)

The first way that Helen said you can save a bit more than you already do is by adopting the 50/30/20 strategy to control your spending (stock image)

2. Consider salary sacrificing to superannuation

Helen’s second tip involves you voluntarily sacrificing some of your salary to your superannuation.

‘If you are looking to save a deposit for your first home, the First Home Super Saver Scheme enables you make voluntary contributions in your super fund and withdraw up to $30,000 of eligible contributions towards your home deposit,’ she said.

Concessional contributions made to an approved super fund are taxed at just 15 per cent, rather than the marginal rate of up to 46.5 per cent on your regular pay.

‘If you have an income of $70,000 and want to put $15,000 towards a home deposit, you can end up paying nearly $4,875 of that $15,000 in tax,’ she said.

By contrast, if you sacrifice $15,000 a year into your super through the First Home Super Save Scheme, you pay just $2,250 in tax per year and could have around $25,000 available for a home deposit after two years.

3. Avoid signing up for products on your partner’s behalf

It might feel tempting to sign up to products on your partner’s behalf as you are a couple, but Helen said it’s best to avoid taking out a credit card, loan or mobile phone plan on your partner’s behalf, in your name.

‘If your partner falls behind on repayments, it can affect both your credit ratings, and if you break up or your partner accumulated debt, and you are married or defacto, you will be liable for their debt,’ she explained.

Avoid rushing into joint bank accounts or co-signing loans, she added.

Even though it’s important to have joint finances and accounts when you’re in a long-term relationship or marriage, you must also have your own savings and emergency fund. 

Helen said it's best to avoid taking out a credit card, loan or mobile phone plan on your partner's behalf, in your name (stock image)

Helen said it’s best to avoid taking out a credit card, loan or mobile phone plan on your partner’s behalf, in your name (stock image)

4. Hide your savings account from yourself

When you set up a savings account, there is always a temptation to dip into it when you need a boost.

But Helen said you should set up a separate bank account for your savings, and ideally one that you can’t access with your current banking app.

‘Choose a savings account that charges withdrawal fees,’ she added – as the harder and more expensive it is to access your account, more likely you are to realise your savings goals.

5. Cut your spending instead of increasing your income

Smart spending can be just as good, if not better, than increasing your income, Helen said.

‘Look at expenses that you can cull, such as a subscription that you rarely use,’ Helen said. 

You could also cut dining out as much and look after your existing items so you can use them for a longer period. 

6. Create a bill strategy 

Helen recommends that you outline all of your bills in a spreadsheet so as to avoid incurring any late fees and pay every bill when it’s due. 

‘Ensure your calendar gives you adequate time to thoroughly check invoices and make sure you are not being overcharged,’ she said.

Try to group any bills into categories of $100, $100-$500 and $500 plus. 

‘Smaller bills, such as mobile phone plans or other monthly service utilities, can be paid by setting up automatic payments,’ she said.

‘Larger bills, such as tax, rent or mortgage repayments, require more diligence. It is also crucial to pay substantial bills on time to avoid incurring a bad credit rating.’ 

Helen is a spokesperson for money.com.au. For more information, please click here

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Additional tenant protections pass Virginia General Assembly

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Virginia lawmakers passed legislation Friday that prohibits landlords from denying applications from prospective tenants solely because of bad credit accrued during the COVID-19 pandemic or because they were evicted for an inability to pay rent during the pandemic.

House Bill 5106 would apply to tenants who received the bad credit or were evicted between March 12 and 30 days after Gov. Ralph Northam’s COVID-19 state of emergency ends.

After some lawmakers raised concerns about the effect it could have on smaller landlords, a joint conference committee made up of members of the House and Senate included a provision that the law would apply only to landlords who own more than four dwelling units or own at least a 10 percent interest in more than four dwelling units.

Lawmakers passed a bill earlier this week that would require landlords to provide tenants with a payment plan before they can be evicted. The legislation includes a similar exemption for small landlords.

Both bills will head to the governor’s desk, where he can sign them into law, veto them or amend them and send them back to the General Assembly.

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