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Front Page - Friday, February 22, 2019

Housing scams still persist

Buying or selling a house can be an intense experience under the best of circumstances, and that provides fertile ground for scammers hoping to capitalize on the process.

A fellow Realtor recently told me he receives calls almost daily from people who are at risk of being scammed.

One method involves taking images of properties that are for sale and posting them online as a property available for rent. When someone is interested in the “rental” property, the scammer asks that money be sent so they can show the property.

This is, unfortunately, just one of the ways dishonest people can prey on people looking for housing. Properly handling client’s data and privacy against cons and scammers seems to be a constant issue in this digital age.

The National Association of Realtors takes the protection of clients very seriously. When concerning data privacy and security, NAR “strongly supports efforts to protect consumers’ sensitive personal information, and the Realtor code of Ethics and Standards of Practice explicitly acknowledges a Realtor’s obligation to preserve the confidentiality of personal information provided by clients in the course of any agency or nonagency relationship – both during and after the termination of these business relationships.”

If you become suspicious of a business interaction, here are some steps to take:

• Be cautious when completing credit checks and rental applications.

• Contact the website owner(s) and ask to have the property removed.

• Keep a paper trail of all your communications.

• Report fraudulent activity to local and federal authorities.

Sellers and listing agents should also register for Google Alerts and get an email anytime the property’s address is published on a website.

I urge the public to be aware of these types of scams, and to be vigilant. It’s always a good idea to ask your Realtor questions about what is required for a transaction. Our expertise as Realtors can protect our clients and help prevent these potentially devastating mistakes.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice of Real Estate in Greater Chattanooga. A regional organization with more than 2,000 members, Greater Chattanooga Realtors is one of some 1,300 local boards and associations of Realtors® nationwide that compose the National Association of Realtors®. Greater Chattanooga Realtors services Hamilton and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee and Catoosa, Dade and Walker counties in northwest Georgia. Information: www.gcar.net, 423 698-8001.