If you’re facing eviction for any reason, there are organizations out there who can help you. But there are also fake “organizations” and “charities” who can hurt you.
COVID-19 has created an even greater opportunity for scammers to target people — people who are just trying to get help with paying their rent or taking care of other financial needs. Scammers may call, email, or text, saying you can get money for rent. Or they may say they can get you legal help to avoid eviction. No matter what kind of help they promise, these scammers always tell you to give them money up front or hand over your personal information first. But those are dead giveaways that it’s a scam.
Whether someone you don’t know contacts you out of the blue, or you go looking for rental assistance, here are ways to protect yourself:
- Never give your Social Security, bank account, credit card, or debit card number to anyone who contacts you. And even if you’re the one reaching out, do your research on the organization first, before you share your info.
- If you look online for help with your rent, search for the name of the groups you find, plus the words “scam,” “fraud,” or “complaint,” to see what others are saying. Do that before you contact them.
- Find out about local programs that offer rental assistance and other help.
- If you’re facing eviction, you still have rights. The first step in most evictions is a written notice. Check with your local court system for more details about the eviction process and your rights. You also may qualify for free legal services and be able to speak to a lawyer to learn about your rights.
- If you spot a rental assistance scam like this, please tell the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
Article written by Lisa Lake, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC