Are You Losing Good Prospects to Bad Scams?

Are You Losing Good Prospects to Bad Scams?
We've all heard the story:

A prince from some small, exotic country who is about to come of age and receive his inheritance wants to come to America. He doesn't have his money yet, but if you wire him $10,000 now, he will pay you back double in three months when he receives his inheritance.

We have become familiar with scams such as these over the years and for the most part are not fooled by them (unless your name is Michael Scott), but scammers are getting smarter and they've begun to go after your prospects!

In the past few months we have come in contact with two different people who have been victims of fake Craiglist apartment listings posing to be real apartment communities. Their stories were similar; nice looking communities in good locations with deals on rent. They took photos straight from property websites and used the same property name. They even listed their phone number and continued their scam through phone calls, making it harder to catch since most Craigslist scammers won't talk to you on the phone. Then they requested a security deposit and first month's rent.

So what can you do? It's a tough situation and there really isn't an overall solution, but there are some steps you can take.

1.Make your community website easy to find. If prospects are smart and do their research, they will look your property up after finding an ad about it on Craigslist. Work on your SEO so they can find it easily and, if possible, get a domain of your property name. On your website, prominently place your phone number to encourage visitors to call and find out more.

2.Monitor your web presence. Sign up for Google Alerts for your property and company name. You will get an email from Google every time something new pops-up on the web using your property name. Then you can monitor how your name is being used and maybe even catch it being misused and react in a timely matter.

3.Monitor Craigslist and other local listings where people can post their own ads to make sure scammers aren't using your company name or photos.

4.Create awareness through social media. If you find out that your property is the target of a scam, report it then get the word out as much as you can. Post on Facebook, tweet it, tell your residents—communicate as much as you can.

5.Make sure you're posting ads to Craigslist and other local listings. If there's a scam involving your property out there, prospects will have a better chance at catching it if there are similar ads with different information. And although a big part of Craigslist's appeal is that it's organic and typically person to person, it may help to post your property website and phone number so the prospect can verify that your community is legit.

Scams are a dangerous thing. They can damage your reputation if your property is being misrepresented, and they can turn people away from renting. Do all you can to protect yourself and create awareness. Don't lose your prospects to scammers!

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