By Ron Leshnower. Apartment Living/Rental Expert
When looking for the perfect apartment. the last thing you need is a rental scam. But if you believe you've become the victim of an apartment rental scam in the United States, the federal government wants to know about it.
What's the FTC?
The FTC is a federal agency that helps consumers, including apartment tenants. prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help consumers identify and avoid scams.
Why Report a Scam?
It's a good idea to report a scam to the FTC, even if you've taken other steps. such as contact the police.
- You might be able to help bring the individuals behind the scam to justice.
- You might be able to get your money back (if the individuals are caught).
- You can help prevent others from falling victim to the same scam.
- It costs nothing and requires little effort.
- It can help take away a feeling you may have of being a powerless victim.
How to File a Complaint
You can file a complaint about an apartment scam by phone or online. To begin, call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or visit the FTC's online Complaint Assistant.
The FTC will enter your complaint into Consumer Sentinel, its secure, online database that's accessible to more than 1,500 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies across the United States and abroad.
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Tips for Completing the Online Form
The online complaint form is straightforward and shouldn't take long to complete. Keep these tips in mind as you work on the form:
- Identify the scam victim. You may complete the form for yourself, or you may do it on behalf of someone else who has been scammed (such as a family member or friend), with that person's permission. Either way, be sure to indicate this, for clarity's
sake, in Step 1 when completing the form.
Scam or Illegal Discrimination?
In addition to rental scams, many apartment hunters experience housing discrimination. which can be just as -- if not more -- unpleasant.
If you believe the problem you experienced was illegal discrimination, you can consider filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). the federal agency with primary responsibility for enforcing the Fair Housing Act .