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Avoid falling victim to common scams when moving house

Most people think they're too savvy to be taken in by a scam. However, if you are buying or selling a home for the first time in a while, you'd be surprised at how sophisticated some of these scammers are. You need to learn about some of the most common scams, as well as tips to help avoid becoming a victim.

Transferring money to a fraudulent account.

If you're buying a home, you will need to transfer the down payment (or the entire amount, if you're paying cash) to the escrow company. Be sure before you do that the request is coming from that company and not a fraudster who's gotten in the middle of your home buying transaction. Verify the account details verbally with the escrow officer and your real estate agent before you wire any funds.

Bait-and-switch gimmicks

Some unscrupulous or completely faux real estate agents will promise to buy your home themselves if they can't sell it. They might only intend to buy it for an amount well below what it's worth and what any legitimate agent could get for it.

This is easy to avoid. Find a trusted Realtor. Get recommendations from friends, family and colleagues. If you make the mistake of partnering with an agent who tries that scam, remember that you don't have to sign off on any sale terms you aren't happy with.

Movers hold your belongings until you pay more

This isn't a real estate scam, but it happens to a lot of people when they move. They're so exhausted from the stress of selling their home and buying a new one that they don't adequately research movers. They just hire the cheapest they can find. Then the movers refuse to deliver their stuff until the customer kicks in some more money.

As with shady real estate scams, you can avoid becoming a victim by researching movers. Only hire reputable, well-known companies. You may also consider renting a moving truck and then hiring people to load and unload your furniture on each end. That way, you're always in possession of your own things.

If you find yourself in the midst of one of these scams or realize too late that you've been a victim, talk with a Florida real estate attorney. They can advise you of your rights and of the best course of action to avoid losing money or to recoup money you've already lost.

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