We’ve posted repeatedly about the perils of filling out an online rental application. Supplying your Social Security Number and other personal information through an unencrypted, insecure Internet connection is begging to become a victim of identity theft.
Chicago Magazine’s Deal Estate column recently focused on Fulton Grace Realty, which prompted me to take a look at the firm’s website.
Fulton Grace has an online apartment application (screen cap above) that solicits the personal information that identity thieves drool over. Fulton Grace’s form is not on an encrypted, secure connection.
The firm’s site advises renters that “applications can be submitted safely and securely online.” As an abstract statement, that’s true. Applications can be submitted safely and securely online – but not on Fulton Grace’s site.
Given the ugly realities of the rental service industry in Chicago renters need to adopt a “one strike and you’re out” rule. If you find any false statement on a rental service website or in one of its ads, or any aspect of the company’s way of doing business that exposes you to unacceptable risk, move on to another firm. Your best bet is to seek out one of Chicago’s many, long-established, reputable brokerage firms or management companies.
If you’re in the market for an apartment in Chicago, be sure to check our list of the twenty-five things the rental services won’t tell you.
If you’re a landlord, ask your attorney whether you have any legal exposure from hiring an irresponsible rental service as your agent.