Eye on Scams: Rental scams

(KLFY)– Are you planning a party? If you need to rent chairs, decorations, a bouncy house or any other supplies, take extra caution when searching for rentals. Consumers are reporting being tricked by rentals that don’t materialize.

“The summer is upon us and people are planning parties, whether it’s a tent, chairs, tables, sometimes inflatables that you need, we’ve had consumers finding ads on social media for what they think are good businesses and it’s people just pretending to rent and steal money,” Chris Babin with the Better Business Bureau of Acadiana said.

The “vendor” promises to reserve your rental for the date you need it if you pay a deposit first. They may also require you to fill out a contact form with your personal details.

“One instance we had reported was an inflatable… a jump house type concept for a kids’ birthday party,” Babin said. “A lady paid $150 deposit via Zelle upfront and then when the party came, she realized the profile was gone, no inflatable showed up, and her money was long gone as well.”

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The scammers will disappear when you ask for your money back. If you contacted the vendor on social media, they may have blocked you or deleted their account.

“It’s really hard to trust what you see on social media,” Babin said. “We encourage you to use references, maybe talk to someone that’s done work with them before, find out what kind of organization they have, if they’re an actual business or if it’s just a person renting and then avoid paying money upfront where possible.”

Here are some tips from the BBB on how to avoid rental scams:

  • Do your research before you rent. Take a good look at the rental company’s website and ensure it has accurate contact information.

  • Think twice when renting from listings only advertised on social media. If the rental business only contacts you and facilitates the rental transaction through social media and refuses to talk on the phone or in person, that’s a red flag.

  • Be wary of people who contact you on messaging apps. Legitimate businesses may use messaging apps to interact with you, but it’s unlikely they will initiate a conversation and contact you out of the blue this way.

  • Review your contract. Ensure that your delivery date and time are accurate, as well as the final cost and payment details.

  • And lastly, consider how the company is asking you to provide payment. Scammers will ask you to provide payment through a digital wallet app or a wire transfer.

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