I'm a first time renter, looking for an apartment/studio in Manhattan. I was hoping to not have to go through brokers and such and just use listings online. But now the more I look, the more I'm afraid I'm going to get scammed, even though rental scams seems to be relatively rare. So there's this one listing, where the contact number for the person is a landline in Seattle. The listing is even a "featured listing" on the website. Another one's phone number is a landline in Syracuse. Is it possible that these people (I suppose they could be startup real estate agents) are doing business while they're not here? And what happens if I actually call? Also, there's a listing that has the phone number of a design company in New York. Then there's this landlord/agent I've been corresponding to via email. This apartment has been listed at numerous rental websites (the free kind). And the person only has one listing. Which makes sense, since she says she owns the unit. Except she puts herself as part of a realty company, whose name starts with her last name. The price is quite low for the area, but she did email me a rental application form. And at least her number is in New York. She offers a discount if you pay 3 months upfront, more if you pay even more upfront. I was thinking of paying 3 month upfront, but I'm afraid that she's going to bail and disappear. Plus I'm not moving in until about 4 months later, so there's plenty of empty time in between that she can disappear on me. So exactly what should I ask/do to make sure the listing/landlords are legit? And since I'm not moving in for months, should I wait until what, a week before moving in to pay them the security and rent?