Students planning to attend university in Cork have been warned to be on the alert for rental accommodation scams as they seek places ahead of the coming academic year.

They have also been urged to report it to gardaí if they fall victim to it.

The warnings come as the housing charity Threshold, local gardaí and UCC Students' Union today launched an awareness campaign SCAMWATCH.

It highlights a checklist for would-be tenants to stop them falling victim to rental scams following a small number of recent incidents in which students, largely from overseas, have been duped.

In one case, two students from Brazil were conned into paying €1,750 in rent for a non-existent tenancy.

Head of Community Policing Sgt Stewart Philpott says the numbers of cases are small, but gardaí believe this may be because victims are slow to report due to embarrassment.

He urged anyone who has been the victim of rental-accommodation fraud to contact gardaí as soon as possible.

Threshold's Southern Regional Services Manager Edel Conlon says the Scamwatch checklist alerts people as to what to look out for in securing suitable accommodation and the steps to take to protect themselves from scams.

Among the advice offered to would-be renters is to be wary of offers that appear too good to be true; use Google maps to check that the property exists; never agree to rent a property without seeing it; avoid paying in cash and ensure the keys work.