Finding an apartment in Paris can be an overwhelming task, especially when you’re not in the city. But it doesn’t have to be a nightmare!
Deal with reputable agencies or landlords that have been recommended to you personally by people you know.
If that’s not possible, be sure to thoroughly research your prospective landlord:
1. Verify the location of the person who e-mailed you by locating the originating IP in the message header (usually in the lower part of the header) and checking to see where they’re located at whois.domaintools.com.
In short, remember, the sender’s actual IP address will always be in the very bottommost “Received:” header.
To learn more about how to find the sender’s original IP address, click here.
***Unfortunately messages coming from a Gmail address do not reveal the originating IP, so be especially vigilant with senders using Gmail.***
2. Avoid dealing with people who use anonymous e-mail services such as Yahoo, Hotmail, Live and, especially, Gmail. Even if after the IP check you’ve established they’re in France, ask them to write to you from an ISP-based e-mail account. For example, typical French Internet subscriber-based e-mail would be @wanadoo.fr, @noos.fr, @orange.fr, @club-internet.fr or some other ISP where the person’s identity would have been verified and is traceable. Just say you have a problem with Gmail and your spam filter, or some such excuse.
3. Use google to see what comes up! Some scammers steal names from Facebook profiles. Also, run the email address through Spokeo Email Research to see if any additional information is available. Sometimes careless scammers have linked their phony email addresses to their real name, photo and location.
4. Verify the Paris white pages to confirm the landlord’s name, phone number and address. Do a search by building address to see who lives there. Phone the “landlord” at the number listed to verify the person is renting an apartment. Crafty scammers have been known to lift names and addresses from the phonebook to look legitimate.
5. Look up any address in Paris to see a photo of the building using the Paris yellow pages. Compare features such as windows with those in any photos you’ve received. Now you can also use Google Street View to search for photos of any address or neighbourhood in Paris. In the search bar just type in Paris, France and then search again by typing in the address.
6. NEVER send a scan of your passport or other ID. In addition to losing money, you would also open yourself to identity theft.
7. If they offer to send scanned ID or utility bills as proof of their identity, don’t fall for it. These fraudsters frequently send forged stolen documents.
8. If you’re dealing with an unknown agency, check the French registrar of companies to find out if they’re legit.
9. NEVER, under any circumstances, wire money via Western Union or Moneygram to people you don’t know personally. Any honest landlord will accept this. Even Western Union tells you not to do it.