Scam Prevention: Search Safe By

Scam Prevention: Search Safe

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” – Benjamin Franklin

Your safety and peace of mind are important

Whether you are searching for a home or a tenant we want you to feel secure. Taking some basic precautions, as you would with any important transaction, can help you search and communicate safely on SabbaticalHomes. Read on for an example of a typical scam attempt and scroll down for more tips to avoid these attempts.

Typical Case Study

We wanted to provide updated information in light of scam attempts targeting SabbaticalHomes members (renters and tenants).   Please be aware of short messages that do not provide much detail related to you or your request; messages that are not personalized and could be sent to anyone.

If you respond to the initial inquiry, the scammer will then ask a few questions, tell you he/she wants to move forward and will even go so far as to sign a lease and provide a copy of an ID. The scammer ultimately says that a bank “is financing the trip” and will send a link to the “bank” where you are asked to create an account in order to process payment. Here is an example:

Sample of Scam Attempt

As you can see in the above image, you are asked to input your bank information (including log-in and password) so the “bank” can supposedly “transfer” you money. This is a huge red flag.  Never give your bank account information or password to anyone.  In actuality, no transfer will be made but the scammer will now have access to your account and your bank funds.

We do our best to block these types of emails/scammers but sometimes they do get through.  We wanted to share this information so our members can remain diligent and alert to these types of scams.  Read more below for additional resources in regards to scam prevention.

Listen to your intuition

If for any reason you feel unsafe, trust your instincts and move on. Be particularly wary of renters willing to book your place without any questions, especially renters located overseas. Also, be aware of renters bypassing our system. To avoid detection, these individuals contact members directly using publicly available university contact information.

Manage your public profile

If you add a link that contains your email information to your public profile, you may be leaving yourself open to a scammer contacting you directly via email. Adding links like LinkedIn allows others to see some information about you but keeps your email address private.

Review profiles prudently

Thoroughly reading other members’ listings can help give you a better idea of who they are. Be mindful of what they say about themselves and any feedback left for them.


Be prompt with your communications. Take time to ask meaningful questions and expect clear answers. If the replies are not clear, be suspicious. Developing a relationship is the first step to finding the perfect match.

Confirm contact information and check references

Always verify your match’s street address and phone number. Ask for and check references (work, school administrators, etc.). Receiving false or forged documents is a definite red flag. Never send a copy of your identification before being absolutely sure with whom you are communicating. A video-call service, such as Skype, is a wonderful tool for this process.

Verify that a certified check is genuine

Before you deposit a certified check, verify authenticity with the issuing bank—not just your bank. Make sure the account contains sufficient funds and the issuing bank guarantees payment on the check. It may take a week or more for the check to clear. Realize that it hasn’t cleared just because your bank has accepted it and credited your account.

Leave Feedback

Be honest and clear about your experience with other Sabbatical Homes’ members. Leaving feedback on our site is a great way you can help build the virtue of our community.

Beware of overpayment or other complicated payment schemes

Don’t agree to any plan where the buyer asks to send a check for more than the rental price and requests that the seller refund the difference. And be suspicious of any renter who proposes making payment through a friend or agent of the renter. These are usually arrangements from international sources and the scammer fabricates some reason for you to quickly send them money.

These are telltale signs of well-established scams frequently used on the Internet. The scammer sends a fake money order that initially deposits successfully. Unfortunately, your bank calls a few days later to retract the deposited funds.

Related: Real Estate Scams, Fraud & Misleading Tactics

Recognizing Scammers

·    They are almost always in a hurry
·    Many cannot spell or construct complete sentences
·    They will be unable to give you verifiable references
·    They use Western Union, Money Gram, cashier’s checks, and/or money orders
·    They will be unable to meet in person

Report fraud and abuse to Sabbatical Homes

We work hard to preserve the integrity of our community of users. Please contact us to report a fraud attempt or a suspected scammer. We value your input in preventing these attempts.

As a member, both your email and home address remain concealed from the public site for optimal safety and security. Neither will be revealed until you choose to share the information with a requesting individual.

Let us know what you think! Connect with us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest.