In the United States, disadvantaged families can apply for what’s known as “Section 8” housing assistance, which is access to apartments and other dwellings that are kept at an affordable rental rate specifically for low-income workers.
The Federal Trade Commission is now warning that scammers are looking to take advantage of these struggling citizens, according to infosecurity-magazine.com.
According to sources such as the FTC and infosecurity-magazine.com, scammers have begun creating websites that look like registration sites for Section 8 waiting list lotteries. The sites look very real: The names may say “Section 8,” and they might show an Equal Housing Opportunity logo.
They’re only geared to ask for fees and personal information, like Social Security numbers, which can be sold on the black market or used for ID theft. And, of course, they don’t actually result in signing the victim up for the waiting list.
The false websites are very convincing replicas of registration sites for Section 8 waiting list lotteries, writes wkrg.com. Search results often bring up bogus sites that look very real.
Not only have victims lost money and personal information, but they also have lost a place on a legitimate Section 8 waiting list. Most people don’t realize they’ve been scammed until after the waiting list is closed.
Other false websites list Section 8 properties that supposedly are available. These properties are available to rent if you pay the first month’s rent via wire transfer or a prepaid card. While the properties might exist, the ads are fake. If you pay, you just lose your money.
Consumers should know there is no fee to register for a Section 8 waiting list. In reality, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Section 8 program gives funding to local government housing authorities.
The local authorities issue housing choice vouchers to help people find housing in privately-owned rental units. For information on the Section 8 waiting list lottery, contact your local housing authority. Again, there is no fee to register.
For more information, call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357), or HUD’s Public Housing Authority at (800) 955-2232.