Recently, across the country rental scams have increased due to advertising based websites like Zillow, trulia, hotpads, and craigslist. Many consumers of real estate find Advertising websites (Trulia, Zillow, etc.) easy to use and believe they’re places that have a wealth of information when searching for real estate. Although these websites may display a tremendous amount of “3rd party data”, there are major security issues attached these websites, which have not yet been exposed to the consumer.
In the past, the majority of all rental scams were taking place on craigslist. However, now that websites trulia and Zillow have become multi-billion dollar real estate advertising portals with the ability to advertise to consumers through television and other media, scammers are exposing weaknesses in their platforms and finally utilizing those websites as a primary source to capture consumers information and commit fraud.
At the present moment, most of the fraudulent postings are rental listings where the scammer is duplicating information on properties that are actually for sale. In some cases, scammers have even setup email accounts with the owners property name and respond to consumer interest through by email.
KNOW THE DIFFERENCE!
It has been said for years, “you can’t trust everything you see on the internet.” As a consumer, this is a very important thing to understand when you’re searching by yourself for homes online. There are some very key differences in the types of real estate websites that you may come across. Before you start searching, know the difference.
Advertising Platforms (Zillow, Trulia, etc) vs. Real Estate Websites (Real Estate Broker Websites, etc)
The main difference in these two types of websites is that advertising websites are NOT controlled or regulated by any real estate laws, while Real Estate websites are. If a licensed real estate professional published content on a website, they may only do so under certain rules/restrictions, otherwise they can be penalized. However, Advertising based websites are not owned by licensed real estate companies and therefor can publish pretty much whatever they want. Advertising websites often are setup where users publish content on the website and the user is liable for whatever is being posted. To learn more about the differences in these websites view Real Estate Website Sources”
Why Ad Networks won’t change
Well at least for now, if they did try to change how they operated, they would find them selves moving closer to a “regulated” website and away from “Creative Commons” style website like Wikipedia. The only hope for them is to work direct with Brokers and MLS’s in order to provide a direct listing feed from the MLS to the advertising portal. Learn about the pros and cons in the article Trulia/Zillow MLS partnerships Explained.