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Eviction moratorium scams: How to avoid them

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Renters have been scrambling since the COVID-19 eviction moratorium ended in late August.

Almost 600,000 Pennsylvanians, including many in Erie County, could be evicted by the end of October, according to the U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey.   

As an added insult, scammers are taking advantage of these desperate people by promising them loans or government grants, then stealing their money or identity without providing any help.

One scam that the Better Business Bureau reported was when a victim received a call from a supposed “loan provider,” saying their loan had been approved.

But there was a catch: The victim needed a higher credit score. The victim was told they could boost their credit score by returning funds the loan provider sent to their account.

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In truth, the funds were never really transferred to the account and the victim was bilked out of $1,000 when they “returned” money that was never sent, the BBB reported.

Here are ways the BBB advises people to protect themselves from eviction moratorium scams:

Double-check any government program before you sign up. If an organization is offering you a grant or relief funds, get to know them before you agree to anything.

Take a close look at their website and read reviews. If you think you might be dealing with an impostor, find the official contact information and call the company to make sure the offer is legitimate.

Be wary of out-of-the-blue calls, emails or text message claiming to be from the government. In general, the government will not contact you using these methods, unless you have granted it permission.

Think something seems suspicious? Reach out to the agency directly. If you doubt that a government representative is legitimate, hang up the phone or stop emailing.

Do not pay any money for a “free” government grant or program. It is not really free if there is a fee involved. A real government agency will not ask for an advanced processing fee.

Instead, find out if the grant is legitimate by checking grants.gov.

Advance fees are a concern. Not all businesses promising to help you repair bad credit are scams, but if you are asked to pay in advance, that’s a red flag.

In both the U.S. and Canada, credit repair and debt relief companies can only collect their fee after they perform the services promised.

Avoid guarantees and unusual payment methods. Real lenders never guarantee a loan in advance.

They will check your credit score and other documents before providing an interest rate and/or loan amount and will not ask you to pay an upfront fee.

Fees are never paid via gift cards, CashApp or prepaid debit card. Unusual payment methods and payments to an individual are a big tip-off.

HERE to HELP: Have a consumer question you’d like us to help you with? Leave a message with David Bruce at 870-1736, send an email to [email protected] or send mail to 205 W. 12th St., Erie, PA 16534.

Source: on 2021-09-10 05:33:45

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