The challenge faced by both landlords and tenants from phishing scams has been laid bare following the latest agent expulsion revealed today by the Property Redress Scheme.

The company is Rotherham-based lettings agency Matthew & Evans Rentals, which an investigation by the PRS revealed to have been involved in an attempt to phish tenants.

Phishing, as many landlords will be aware, is when criminals attempt to persuade people to unwittingly reveal their personal details. This data can then be used for various purposes including identity theft and credit fraud.

The PRS investigation uncovered a communication, believed to be an email, sent to prospective tenants which sought a ‘responsible person’ to rent a property for €575 a month, and asked those replying to reveal personal information.

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PRS says this was a ‘red flag’ to its team along with a lack of property details oe any links to the agent’s privacy policy and contact information.

Unlawful practices

Based on this, the PRS board decided to immediately expel the company from the scheme for ‘unlawful practices and not acting according to the standards we expect from our members’.

The company appears to have disappeared – there is no trace of its office, website, or portal listings online.

Sean Hooker, Head of Redress at the PRS, says: “This is the first time we have come across such a blatant practice and we cannot condone such behaviour.

“It would be remiss of us to allow them to remain part of our scheme. This is a serious breach of professional trust by an agent and is against the law.

“We expect the highest standards of our agents who are members and while mistakes do happen, deliberate attempts to deceive and exploit people will not be tolerated.”

The Property Redress Scheme urges consumers to report suspicious behaviour to them immediately, so they can take appropriate action.

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