Last week we were saddened to hear again about a student who had been the victim of housing scams while looking for a room in Lisbon. Every semester we hear about this and we want to warn all students to be careful when searching for a room, especially when searching online.

In this case, the student posted in a Facebook group to say that there were searching for a room. They were contacted privately by a Facebook profile and then via email.

The housing scams usually follow the pattern of a Facebook message and conversation. They will send you a photoshopped passport picture to ‘prove’ their identity and will ask you to transfer money to a non-Portuguese bank account, giving the reason that is belongs to a friend or a lawyer.

Tips to avoid housing scams:

  • If you are contacted by a private person, make sure to verify that they work for an official organisation/company and that they are able to continue the conversation through official channels.
  • If the rental will not be done through a rental organisation/company, you can always ask for a video chat to see the apartment or the person – you can also ask for an ID to make sure this matches.
  • What is the price? Check the rent of similar rooms to make sure that the rent is similar. If the room sounds too good to be true then it probably is!
  • Where possible, visit the apartment to make sure it corresponds with the pictures you have been given.
  • Search the address on google maps and make sure the building exists.
  • If you are asked to make a payment to a bank account that is not in the name of the landlord OR to a bank account that is not in Portugal (the IBAN must start with PT) then this should catch your attention.

These tips are not 100% effective and we advise all students and interns to be wary when booking a room for your stay and to verify the room in every way possible.

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