It's always best to exercise caution when chatting with someone you don't know online. All websites are susceptible to scammers and hackers, so it’s wise to practice reasonable vigilance while using the internet. One way to protect yourself against scams is to limit sharing personal information early in conversations. Personal information includes:

  • Your phone number

  • Your home address

  • Your email address

  • Your Social Security number

  • Bank details

  • Credit and debit card numbers

  • Details about your identity that can be used to guess passwords (e.g. your birthday, grandkids' names, pet names)

What Does Suspicious Behavior Look Like?

Most frequently, suspicious behavior takes the form of a user trying to rush the process or otherwise pressure you to provide personal information or send money. Some warning signs include:

  • A user insisting you wire them money to reserve a room in their home

  • A user pressuring you to act hastily or immediately

  • Refusal to talk on the phone, video chat or meet in person

  • Reference to problems with a transaction or one of your accounts

  • Refusal to sign a lease or pressure to send money/share information without executing a lease

  • Last-minute changes to agreed-upon terms

  • Last-minute requests for money

  • Requests for money to be transferred outside the Silvernest system

Bad actors will often use timing to create an artificial sense of pressure. 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.

What Should You Do?

If you experience any of the warning signs listed above (or other suspicious activity), DO NOT feel obligated to continue the conversation. Instead, discontinue the conversation and report the suspicious activity to Silvernest using the “report” feature, an example of which is pictured below:

Protecting Yourself

Silvernest was designed to make homesharing simple and protect both parties. To minimize risk, we strongly recommend that you:

  • Delay sharing any contact information.
    Silvernest is designed to let you message other users for free, without giving away any contact information (like phone and email). Be patient and message back and forth with potential housemates to get to know them before sharing any contact information.

  • Insist on a background screen.
    While you may be a good judge of character, a background screen is the best way to ensure peace of mind. Silvernest handles all the details, so all you need to do is make the request.

  • Meet face-to-face.
    Never let the other party 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 choosing to meet in person. You can also conduct a video call or virtual tour if you'd prefer.

  • Sign a lease before making any payments.
    It may feel somewhat formal, but signing a lease puts the key details of your agreement in writing for the protection of both parties. Silvernest also provides a rent calculator and a lease builder tool to make this process easy.

  • Always pay deposits and rent through Silvernest.
    Silvernest’s rent auto-payment isn’t just a secure way to transfer money and track payments—it also automatically triggers insurance protection for the home and the renter’s belongings. Most importantly, paying through Silvernest keeps your banking and personal information private and is the most secure option.

  • Finally, use your gut and get a second opinion.
    If the conversation doesn’t feel right, you can always block a Silvernest user and flag their message for review. Signs that you may want to avoid include: pushy behavior, vague or repetitive inquiries, or insistence on an unusual or risky payment ahead of signing your lease.

To learn more about avoiding scams, the FTC is a great resource, like their article How to Avoid a Scam. Please feel free to reach out to us at hello@silvernest.com with any questions. Stay safe!

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