Many of our members, especially those new to home rentals and exchanges, are concerned about entering into an agreement with someone they don’t know. This is understandable. However, there are certain steps that can be taken to increase the comfort level and provide reassurances to have confidence in continuing with an agreement.
The first step is to request references from the person you are corresponding with–and expect them to ask for yours in return. This protects both parties and is a step toward establishing trust between the two parties.
Once you receive the references, here are some tips on checking them make sure the person is who they say they are.
1) One of the easiest ways to get an idea of a person’s authenticity is to check his or her email. You can do this through a simple Google search. If email returns legitimate results, such as an academic institution or established business, this is a good sign that the person is a valid candidate for consideration. Fraudulent emailers often use popular domains such as yahoo.com or hotmail.com, so emails endings with a specific domain name of a university, school, or company as a good sign.
2) Another form of Google search that you can perform is to type in the person’s full name and see what results appear. If the person you are considering for your exchange or rental is an academic, you can use Google search to find their name on a faculty listing for a school, anything that the person may have published, or academic groups in which they may belong.
3) If an employer is provided as one of the references, employer inquiries are another way to check a person’s credibility. You can call an employer to verify that the person works there and to get information about a person’s work history.
4) Many universities will perform Enrollment Verifications for those asking if a particular person is currently enrolled or was enrolled at one point in their lives at a specific school. The university’s Registration Office is your best bet for attaining an Enrollment Verification.
5) Credit checks are a more difficult, but helpful, way of getting information on a person’s credit history. This option may not be available outside of the United States. To request credit reports within the U.S., visit: experian.com, equifax.com or transunion.com. Note that these services are fee-based.
6) To make sure that the people writing the letters of reference are legitimate, check their emails and/or phone numbers as well as using Google methods mentioned above.
7) Visit SabbaticalHomes.com to read reviews from previous members who may have had experiences with the person you are working with.
We hope these tips are helpful. Please remember: never send any money for deposits until you are completely sure of a person’s identity and authenticity. It is always safer to deal with people who contact you directly through SabbaticalHomes.com.