InvestigateTV - The Federal Trade Commission is warning renters against scams involving Section 8, a housing choice voucher program that assists low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled.
Signa Brooks, one of millions of Americans living in public housing, had been struggling to find new housing when she came across a listing for a beautiful property on a website with Section 8 listings.
Brooks left a message for the lister, who asked for an application fee and to communicate via personal email instead of the site. When the lister asked for the fee to be paid via a cash app, Brooks knew it was a scam.
The FTC says this scam has been popping up across the country, stealing not only money but also people’s personal information.
Diane Shelley, the Midwest Regional Director for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) said HUD would never ask for an application fee; it’s actually against the law.
Shelley urged people to pay attention to the websites you use to look for public housing. A good way to vet websites is to check for a “.gov” at the end of a url. Most government agencies use this top-level domain.
Richard Cupelli, the Founder and CEO, AffordableHousing.com, took Brook’s experience seriously. He said the site will add trusted owner badging and membership dates to the site so people can see if an owner is legitimate. He also had several tips for people looking for affordable housing.
- Do NOT send any money until you have a signed contract.
- Do NOT pay any money if you have not seen the property with the landlord that owns the property.
- Review the listing on other websites to ensure this is a valid property. It is a red flag when the terms and contact information differ.
- If the owner does not want to meet face to face this is usually a red flag and should be questioned.
- Send no money up front to “hold” the property.• If there is not a first/last/security deposit requested.
- If there is a lock box on the rental – scammers target vacant properties.
- If the owner is too pushy to get your money.• Ask if they are the owner and get their full name and then check it against Public Records to verify they are the owner of record.
- Favorite the landlord on AffordableHousing.com to view all rentals listed by that landlord. It is a red flag if the owner’s rentals are in different states and all newly listed.
- It’s a red flag if the landlord would rather text than talk.
- Record any suspicious activity and report it back to AffordableHousing.com so we can verify the listing and report it to the authorities.
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