Do you know how to spot a rental assistance scam?


Scammers take advantage of people during times of fear and uncertainty — and the COVID-19 pandemic is no different. While federal rental assistance is being rolled out to communities across the country, scammers are actively using this opportunity to prey on consumers in need, by pretending to be someone they’re not.

To apply for rental assistance, you must apply to a state or local rental assistance program. Click here to find a rental assistance program in your area.

Emergency rental assistance scams — true or false?

  1. A federal agency might ask me for personal information so they can help me with housing expenses.

False. A state or local rental assistance program will likely ask for your information on an application. The program you apply to may even follow up with you to help you complete your application. But a federal government agency will not ask you for personal or financial information to process your rental assistance application. If you receive an email, text, call, or social media message from someone claiming to be the federal government, chances are it’s a scam.

  1. If I need help quickly, I can pay a government agency or rental assistance program to expedite my rental assistance application.

False. Local programs are not allowed to charge a fee to process your application for emergency rental assistance. If you’re asked for cash, gift cards, wire transfers, cryptocurrency, or similar forms of payment to help you get rental assistance, it’s probably a scam.

  1. If it looks official, it probably is.

False. Scammers often use official government logos or create fake websites that look official – but aren’t. If you get an email or text with a link to a government website, beware. It could be a scam. For trustworthy information, it’s best to visit government or official websites directly.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has received reports of emails and texts from scammers targeting people looking for rental assistance, often using the name and logo of government agencies and national organizations. In some of these cases, the messages may ask you to provide sensitive personal and financial information.

Help fight fraud.

If you spot an imposter scam, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission.

Learn more about other COVID-19-related scams.

Information provided by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

About the Author

Author Brian Irwin
Title Credit Counseling Coordinator

Brian Irwin is the Credit Counseling Coordinator at Chestnut Credit Counseling Services. He started working as a credit counselor in December of 2018 and completed his National Foundation for Credit Counselors certification in January 2019. Brian has a total of 26 years in the financial industry starting as a mortgage collector and moving into bankruptcies, foreclosures, and progressed into mortgage underwriting to 11 years as a Consumer Loan Officer/Credit Analyst with a CCUFC, Certified Credit Union Financial Counselor certification. After spending more than two decades in the financial industry, Brian knows what truly drives conversions about financial wellness and how to connect with the heartbeat of people wanting to educate themselves about financial wellness. Brian’s leisure time is spent with his family either riding motorcycles, hiking, or fishing at his favorite fishing hole in north-central Minnesota.