Attractive accommodation for little money – which prospective student wouldn’t want that? Watch out, though, because scammers are lurking out there, waiting for you to take the bait.
Criminals are cashing in on the shortage of affordable rooms in many Dutch student cities. They’re placing ads offering cheap rental accommodation for students. They know exactly what most students are looking for. When students respond, they’re asked to pay a deposit. Of course, the students never receive their keys and they’ll never get their money back.
Copy of your ID
In much the same way, scammers also try to get copies of identity documents. They tell students to send a copy of their passport or ID card before they can have the room. Once in their possession, the con artists use these documents to open a bank account or take out a telephone subscription in the name of the victim.
Every year, dozens of people report these types of rental accommodation scams to Fraud Help Desk. In many cases, the victims are students, who often lose hefty amounts of money. In 2017, approximately 50 victims lost a total of € 70,000, that’s € 1,400 per individual on average.
What can you do to protect yourself?
Prospective students can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to this type of criminal activity by taking the following precautions:
- Check whether you are dealing with established bona fide rental agencies
- Make sure you meet your landlord face to face in the accommodation to be rented and ask for their ID
- Make sure you get the (right) keys before paying any deposit
- Never give out a copy of your ID, but if you really have to, cross out your BSN number
These tips are included in a flyer published today by Fraud Help Desk, CCV (Centre for Crime Prevention and Security), the Netherlands Ministry of Justice and Security and Scholieren.com (click to enlarge):