Tips From The BBB

Our Sponsors

How to spot a credit check scam when apartment shopping

Are you moving this summer? Watch out for a new twist on fake rental ads. According to multiple BBB Scam Tracker reports, scammers use phony tenant credit checks to trick potential renters into compromising sensitive personal information.

How this scam works

You find a good deal on an apartment while browsing rental listings online. When you call the number to inquire, the owner asks you to complete a credit check before you can see the place. If you agree, they’ll send you a link to a website where you can get the credit check done.

The website may look professional, but it’s all part of a scam. After you enter your sensitive information and pay for the credit check, the “landlord” will disappear. Your credit card information could be compromised, and you could even be at risk for identity theft.

One consumer reported the following experience: “I gave my name, address, and social security number to obtain my credit score from this website. They asked me to take a screenshot of my score and send it to the same address that emailed me the link. Afterward, they sent an email with a showing time, but they did not list the house number or the listing on Craigslist.” Afterward, the consumer was unable to reach anyone about the apartment. Their calls and emails went unanswered. 

How to avoid similar scams: 

  • Do some research. Search the listing online, as well as the associated phone number and email address. If you find another listing for the same property in a different city, you’ve spotted a scam. Reverse image searches can be helpful, too, as can searching the renter’s name along with the word “scam.” These searches only take a few minutes and are well worth the effort.
  • Always see the property in person. Many rental scams involve listings for properties that don’t exist. Something is fishy if the renter refuses to let you know where the apartment is before you complete a credit check or pay them a deposit. Be wary, too, if you are given the address of a home with a for sale sign in the yard. You might not be in contact with the actual owners.
  • Be cautious about credit check websites. If you need a credit check, always use reputable sources, such as those recommended by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  • Read the full article for more tips

How to spot a phony website when booking a hotel online

If you are planning summer travel, watch for hotel booking scams. BBB Scam Tracker has gotten multiple reports of travelers falling victim to lookalike websites. Always confirm you are on the right website before making hotel reservations. 

How this scam works

You are searching for hotels in the city you plan to visit. Among the top search results is what appears to be an official hotel website or a legitimate travel booking agency. When you click the link, you find a website with professional photos from the hotel and reasonable pricing.

Everything looks normal, so you decide to book a room. You enter your credit card information and check out. However, when you review your credit card statement, you notice the hotel has charged you a much higher rate than you agreed. It turns out that you weren’t on the official hotel website after all! You accidentally clicked on a third-party site without affiliation with the hotel.

When you contact the company to cancel your reservation, you may not be able to get through to anyone. And even if you do, they’ll likely tell you you’ve made a non-refundable reservation. The best they can do is cancel your reservation and charge you for it anyway.

Read the full alert for an example of this scam

How to avoid similar scams: 

  • Only book hotels through official websites – The best way to avoid this kind of scam is to check and double-check you are on an official hotel website before you enter your credit card information. Scammers are pros at building fake lookalike websites to fool you into giving up your data. Look closely at the URL to ensure you are on the hotel’s official website or a booking agency you know and trust.
  • Only make reservations through secure websites. You’ll also want to ensure websites and their payment pages are secure, meaning they start with https:// and display a padlock symbol. If a web page isn’t secured, don’t enter your personal information and close the tab.
  • Read the complete article for more advice

For more information

To plan your next vacation, visit the BBB Travel HQ for more tips and advice. You’ll learn more about best booking practices, staying safe during travel, and avoiding scams. 

If you spot a hotel scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker. Your report helps to boost consumer awareness and stop scammers in their tracks.

Want more of these emails? Subscribe to BBB’s weekly Scam Alerts

For more information

Visit the BBB Moving HQ for more tips and advice. Learn more about common rental scams in this BBB Study. Watch out for a similar scam where the “landlord” claims they are out of town and unable to show the property.

If you spot a rental scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker. Your report helps to boost consumer awareness and stop scammers in their tracks.

Want more of these emails? Subscribe to BBB’s weekly Scam Alerts