Section 8 residents are being targeted online by housing scams. With the rise in internet usage among low-income Americans, scammers are taking advantage of this opportunity to lure vulnerable people into traps. Every day, there are hundreds of people who become victims, unknowingly giving their personal information and money to scammers.
Scammers pose as a landlord and place bait throughout the internet. You can expect to see housing scams appearing in search engine results, classified ad websites, e-mails, and social media. If you search for available Section 8 units for rent in a search engine, be aware that not every website in your results is legitimate. There are some con artists going so far as to using a search engine’s paid ad service to gain even more prominence.
Housing scams are also flooding classified ad websites such as Craigslist, asking for a deposit before showing a unit. Others offer to accept a payment in exchange for the unit to be reserved or to skip the voucher waiting list. After these scammers receive their money, they disappear and in most cases the unit never even existed.
Providing your personal information to a scammer puts you at risk for being adding to scam marketing lists, or worse, having your identity stolen.
HAI Group has taken action to protect its Members by partnering with Affordable Housing Online to launch a national campaign to raise awareness of what to avoid and look out for when using the internet to search for an apartment. Tenants can find valid affordable housing apartments listed at no cost on their website, www.affordablehousingonline.
It is imperative that residents know they are never required to pay to apply to a waiting list or to view a unit. Housing authorities are among the first websites a tenant will visit to learn about Section 8. We’re asking for your help in spreading the word in your community. To help, we’ve created a toolkit for your agency, which you can access by clicking here. Included is a short video to embed on your website, a downloadable poster to display in waiting areas, and a prevention guide to include in your voucher briefing packet.
We thank you in advance for your support in taking action to take help protect residents from housing scams.