Contact other agents/firms to compare what they have for rent and how they do business.
Make sure they offer you a NYS agency disclosure form at first contact
Go to their website.
Find out where their office is.
Ask for references
Consult a lawyer before signing any kind of contract.
Never pay cash
Never pay a commission fee upfront.
Verify independently that your credit is good before applying
The DOS also has a great page on apartment hunting here:http://www.dos.ny.gov/cnsl/apthunt.html Good Luck!