Have you found your dream flat to rent? Beware of tricksters when making reservations by bank transfer

Whether you’re renting an apartment for the summer holidays, or simply searching for somewhere to live, these days it is common to use online portals to look for properties to rent. Sometimes you can come across an apartment with an excellent location at a very attractive price for the area... but is it too good to be true? How can you tell if it’s a scam?

There are some clues that should arouse your suspicions. For instance, if the photographs look to come from a glossy magazine, if the contact person tells you he/she is abroad and can’t show you the apartment, or if contact is by e‑mail and the message contains grammatical errors or spelling mistakes. And, crucially for our purposes here, if he/she asks you to pay for the reservation in advance by bank transfer.

If this is the case, think about it carefully before doing so, because transfers are irrevocable payment orders. And if you do fall victim to a scam, contact your bank immediately as soon as you realise. In accordance with good banking practice, banks are required to take all reasonable steps to try to recover the sum transferred, by contacting the recipient bank.

However, you need to bear in mind that any sum paid into another person’s account cannot be returned without their consent, or by a court order. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance in these cases to take all due precautions before making the transfer.

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