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Credit: Joy Lee

Many students are in the process of subletting their apartments online for the summer. It is important to be careful when subletting online as there are numerous stories of scams. For those who don’t know, Penn-lets is a service powered by The Daily Pennsylvanian. It allows students to sublet their campus apartments/rooms to anyone on the web, but is mainly used for selling to other Penn students. By following these simple steps below, you should be able to safely sublet your apartment this summer!

  • Look out for obvious red-flags: One of the more popular scams when subletting online is the buyer will send you a check or money order for too much money and then will ask you to write a check for the "extra" amount back to them, or to a third party, claiming that it was a mistake on their part for writing the check to a higher amount than they meant to. Often, scammers will pay with a banker’s check which is revocable. When you cash the check, it will look as if it cleared, but because it is a bankers check, it can be revoked. You may think you have their money, and actually decide to send them the difference; however, after you send them the money they invalidate the check and you’re out a subletter and a few hundred dollars. In general, if you, the seller, are ever asked to pay the buyer for anything, you should know something is probably wrong. 

  • Beware of Counterfeit Checks and checks with insufficient funds: Similar to the point above, make sure any checks that you receive are legitimate and make sure you can cash them in at the bank before handing over the keys to your buyer. It may not even be a banker’s check scheme and you may be able to tell right away at the bank if the check is legitimate. If the check does not go through, it is not legitimate. 

  • Ask to meet up: Try your best to meet up with the person you are selling to. If someone messages you immediately saying that they want to buy it as soon as possible and that they do not care about coming to see the apartment, you should be suspicious. Also, getting to know the person you are selling to is always a good idea, as you can get a better idea as to how interested you buyer is and to get a feel if the person you are selling to is trustworthy.

  • Do some research on the person you are selling to: Once you get their name, or after meeting them in person, look them up online and make sure they aren’t known scammers. It is a very simple and a very effective strategy at confirming that you are subletting to a reputable person. 

Check out for simple subletting!

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