If you or someone you know is looking for affordable housing, Better Business Bureau Serving® Northern Colorado and Wyoming wants you to be aware of fake websites created by con artists to take advantage of low-income house hunters.
“The phony sites look like registration sites for HUD and Urban Development’s Housing Choice Vouchers, also known as Section 8. If you pay a fee or give your personal information, the scammers will take it. And you still won’t be on a real Section 8 waiting list,” said Shelley Polansky, BBB VP/communications.
Section 8 participants are free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program and are not limited to units located in subsidized housing projects.
However, if you search online for the Section 8 voucher waiting list, the top search results often are bogus sites. The sites look very real and their names may say “Section 8,” and they might show an Equal Housing Opportunity logo. They ask for fees and your personal information, like your Social Security number. They’ll keep the money, sell your personal information to identity thieves, and disappear.
Scam artists also use fake websites to list Section 8 properties that supposedly are available. The website states that you can rent one if you pay the first month’s rent via wire transfer or a prepaid card. “The ads are fakes and if you pay you just lost your money,” Polansky said.
Your BBB advises:
- Contact your local housing authority to register for Section 8 housing. You’ll find your county’s email and phone number on the Housing and Urban Development (hud.gov).
- Housing authorities do not charge fees. They also won’t reach out to you by phone or email to suggest that you join a waiting list.
- Don’t wire money or use a prepaid debit card. Scammers pressure people into wiring money or putting cash on a prepaid debit card because it can’t be traced or returned. Government agencies do not ask for money using these forms of payment.
- Be a skeptic. Just because something appears high in search engine results does not necessarily mean it’s legitimate. Double check the URL or type it in directly if making a purchase or sharing personal information online.
Start With Trust®. For more consumer tips and information, go to bbb.org.
ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2014, people turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 4.7 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. BBB Serving Northern Colorado and Wyoming founded in 1983 and serving 38 counties is one of 113 local, independent BBBs across North America.