June 2015 - The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning about a new scam to steal from people seeking Section 8 housing assistance.

Scammers have posted fake Section 8 waiting-list lottery sites that ask for personal information and even fees but don't enroll victims on any waiting lists. Some offer housing listings in exchange for a month’s rent via wire transfer or prepaid card.

These websites may have the phrase “Section 8” in their addresses and display familiar logos. Many victims are reaching these scam sites through online searches for Section 8 waiting lists. Instead of searching online, people should contact their local housing authorities about waiting lists.

Scammers are taking people’s money and stealing personal information. To avoid being a victim, be aware:

• There is NO FEE to join a Section 8 waiting list.

• A request to wire money or pay by prepaid card is a sure sign of a scam.

• To join a waiting list, contact your local housing authority.

• DO NOT input your important personal information into a website you find through an online search.

• Never pay deposits or rent before signing a lease.

Read the full FTC post for helpful information including how to report scams when you find them.


Other Tips to Stay Safe from Scammers from Our Scam Alert Page

• If it sounds too good to be true, it is!

• Do not pay with cash or certified check.

• Make sure you can verify who owns the property you are interested in. Get the landlord's name, home address and telephone number to verify them. You can…

- Ask for references from the landlord, preferably from former tenants.

- Check the local clerk of court or register of deeds to verify ownership of the property (the fee to obtain a copy is nominal, and some can be found on the county websites for free).

- Check with the Department of Consumer Affairs and BBB to see if any complaints have been filed against the landlord. 

If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, contact your local law enforcement agency. You can also file a complaint with the FTC.