As students across the country look to organise accommodation for the upcoming academic year, An Garda Siochána have released this video with information regarding student accommodation fraud.
As the video mentions, accommodation fraud was less of an issue last year with most students studying from home, but in previous years there have been as many as 500 reports of accommodation fraud reported to Gardaí with over 40% of the victims under the age of 25.
Accommodation fraud occurs when someone is looking for accommodation and pays a deposit or rent to someone who may be scamming them. Gardaí are advising students to be wary of rental scams, and in the video have outlined some warning signs for those currently on the hunt for a place to live:
- Landlord is unable to meet (may say they're out of the country or blame covid restrictions
- Communication is by messaging apps (whatsapp etc) or social media only
- Property is offered with no questions asked or no references needed (if it seems too good to be true, it probably is)
- Deposit is asked to be paid in cash or cryptocurrency
Gardaí have also provided the following advice for those looking to avoid accommodation fraud:
- Use a recognised letting agency where possible
- Make sure the property exists and that you're able to visit - inspect the property in person before handing over a deposit
- Make sure that the person renting the property or room has the authority to do so
- Insist on a valid tenancy agreement and use a trusted payment method such as credit card
If you believe you have been a victim of accommodation fraud, you should report it to your local Garda station and contact your bank immediately.
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