Be suspicious of anyone who asks for a cash deposit up front to see a property or asks you to wire a deposit.

Try searching the local property appraiser’s website to find out who the current property owner is and look for contact information online. Avoid doing transactions via email or on the phone.

Use a check, never cash, to make any payment so you have an automatic receipt of it.

Always insist on speaking with the property owner before signing a contract or making a payment if someone says they’re representing the owner.

If someone claims to be a real estate agent, ask to see their license and take a picture of it so you can confirm the information online through your state’s division of real estate licensing.


If they balk, just walk away because it’s likely a scam.


If you believe you’re being targeted, it’s important to take steps to notify the proper authorities.

Federal Trade Commission 

When you file a report with the agency online, it’s entered into a database that reaches local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Filing a report is very simple; plan on at least 10-15 minutes.

Go to:



If you feel you are the victim of wire fraud you will likely need to do more than simply file a complaint — particularly if you’ve handed over any private information. IC3 is the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Go to:

For Identity Theft  

Go to:, which is the government’s online portal for anyone who is worried that a criminal is acting in their name.

Better Business Bureau 


You can also file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker, which will help notify others about potential fraud activities. If you want a better chance at connecting with an individual to hear your story, consider contacting your state’s consumer protection agency, as well.

Local authorities 

Police departments will allow you to file a report if you’ve been scammed, but most require you to come into a precinct to do so. The reality is there is little local police can do, because these scams often involve interstate commerce, banking and international players.

However, they can and should investigate and take action if the scammers are operating locally and you can provide evidence.

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