3 min read

Avoiding Scams and Keeping Your Information Secure

All websites are susceptible to scammers and hackers, so it’s wise to be vigilant while using the internet. This article will give an overview of how to recognize suspicious behavior and protect yourself.  


In this article: 


What does suspicious behavior look like? 

Although it’s rare, bad actors do sometimes make their way onto HomeShare Online. If a HomeShare Online user exhibits any of the following warning signs, you have good reason to be suspicious, exercise caution and possibly report them (here’s how to do that): 

🚩 Insisting you wire/send them money to reserve a room in their home 

🚩 Pressuring you to act hastily or immediately 

🚩 Refusing to talk on the phone or video chat  

🚩 Refusing to meet in person 

🚩 Asking you to send or re-send money because there’s a problem with a transaction or one of your accounts 

🚩 Refusing to sign paperwork like a homesharing agreement or lease  

🚩 Pressure to send money or share information without executing a homesharing agreement or lease 

🚩 Last-minute changes to agreed-upon terms 

🚩 Last-minute changes to agreed-upon payment methods 

🚩 Last-minute or rushed requests for money 


Bad actors will often use timing to create an artificial sense of urgency. They may also take advantage of your politeness to pressure you into providing information you would not otherwise provide. Most of us are wired to want to avoid offending others—even when the other person is acting suspicious or pressuring us to do something that makes us uncomfortable. But don’t let your desire to be polite overshadow your good judgment. It’s okay to say no! 


Learn more from the FTC: How to Avoid a Scam. 


6 ways to protect yourself online 

Here are our top tips for protecting yourself online—on HomeShare Online, and across the internet. 


️ Delay sharing your contact information  

HomeShare Online is designed to let you message potential housemates without revealing your full name, phone number, email address or home address. Be patient and use HomeShare Online messaging to communicate with potential housemates to get to know them before sharing any of this contact information. Learn more about messaging on HomeShare Online. 


️ Don’t share any sensitive personal information 

There is some personal information that a housemate simply doesn’t need access to. This includes: 

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your banking details
  • Your credit and/or debit card numbers
  • Details about your identity that can be used to guess passwords (your birthday, grandkids' names, pet names, etc.) 


If a HomeShare Online user is asking you for any of this information, please report them immediately by emailing help@HomeShareOnline.org or sending a message to the chat box on our website (just click the orange speech bubble button in the bottom-right corner of any page). 


️ Insist on a background check 

While you may be a good judge of character, a background check is a great way to cover your bases, just in case. You can request a background check from potential housemates through HomeShare Online, and you can also take one yourself to demonstrate transparency and commitment to homesharing. Learn more about background checks. 


️ Meet face-to-face 

Never let a home provider rush you into sending a deposit before meeting face-to-face and seeing the property in person. We recommend choosing a neutral location like a park or coffee shop when meeting for the first time, then following up with a visit to the property if the first meeting goes well.  


Please consider social distancing and other local safety regulations and communicate any COVID-related requirements you have before meeting in person. You can also ask the home provider if it’s possible to conduct a video call or virtual tour if you prefer. 


️ Sign a homesharing agreement or a lease before making any payments 

It may feel somewhat formal, but signing a homesharing agreement or a lease puts the important details of your homesharing arrangement in writing for the protection of both parties. HomeShare Online's Nest Easy Homesharing Agreement™ is legally binding and designed specifically to address the needs of two people sharing a home. Learn more about the Nest Easy Homesharing Agreement. 


️ Trust your gut  

If the conversation doesn’t feel right, trust your gut. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into continuing the conversation or taking action. It’s not impolite to end a conversation that makes you uncomfortable.  


What to do if you encounter suspicious behavior 

If you experience any of the warning signs listed above (or other suspicious activity), don’t feel obligated to continue the conversation. Instead, report the suspicious activity to HomeShare Online.  


There are several ways to report a user: 

  • Send a message in the chat window on our website. 
  • Call (720)-703-9389. 


🧠 Related articles

Vetting and Screening Housemates | Safety Tips for Choosing a Home | Background Checks | Identity Verification