You may feel so stressed in your search for Section 8 rental assistance that you become blind to scammers.
Keep reading to see how to keep your money and information secure when seeking a housing voucher.
While the Internet is certainly convenient, it’s also filled with con artists looking to score easy money at your expense.
What do they often target? People in need who may feel a bit rushed or desperate for a service, which may describe you if you are frantically seeking ways to keep a roof over your family’s head.
The U.S. Department of Housing And Urban Development (HUD) created its Housing Choice Voucher program (previously Section 8) to give low-income families a boost with the rent. And while you can kickstart the Section 8 application process online, there are certain things you should be aware of to protect yourself from common scams.
Let’s clear the air on what is okay and what’s not acceptable when it comes to Section 8, especially in terms of payments for services that should be free.
1. Is there a cost to apply for Section 8?
No. In fact, the HUD prohibits the charging of any fees during the application process.
This makes perfect sense since the program is meant to help families trying to keep their heads above water, so you shouldn’t have to pay a penny to apply.
Whenever you get led to a payment screen when seeking Section 8 information, leave immediately. You should never have to pay for information or an application.
2. Can you apply for a Section 8 housing voucher online?
In some instances, yes, you can apply online. Your best bet may be to apply in person with your Public Housing Agency (PHA), however, so you can get help with filling out the application and keep your data secure.
Either way, find your local PHA here and contact them to see your options and set up an appointment. Do this first before entering your information into any online application.
Some sites may trick you into thinking you’re applying for Section 8 when you are not. After you enter your data, they’ll sell it to marketing companies who will hound you with other offers.
For this reason alone, it’s best to get to know your PHA now before making any moves that could compromise your information.
3. Can you pay for someone else’s voucher?
Never underestimate the creativity of scammers. Some will offer vouchers online in exchange for money.
Why would they do this? Because they know that Section 8 vouchers have notoriously long waiting lists that could last years, even after you’re approved.
If a person is extremely anxious to get their voucher and get off the waiting list, they may be willing to fork over cash for a fake voucher.
You cannot buy someone else’s voucher, so don’t bother. You also cannot pay or bribe anyone to move up on the waiting list.
4. Do you have to pay to view Section 8 properties?
Viewing a property should be free, as should getting any pertinent information on it. Be sure to see the landlord in person so you can view the property and get informed.
Never send them payment for services that a legitimate landlord would do at no cost.
5. Can you pay to reserve a Section 8 property?
Here’s another common scam that takes advantage of Section 8 “scarcity.” If a landlord asks for payment to reserve their Section 8 rental, do not do it.
You will often see this and similar deposit scams on online classified sites for rentals that do not even exist.