The Internet is an excellent tool for learning about Section 8 or the Housing Choice Voucher program. Within seconds, you can get more acquainted with the application process without having to visit an office.
This, unfortunately, comes with a downside that seems to sit at every corner of the Internet: Scammers. And since they target niches where people are in need, you can bet that they have some of their bullseyes on Section 8 searchers.
To keep you from being the next victim of a Section 8 scam, let’s look at four of the most common schemes that you’re most likely to run into.
For it to make the most chronological sense, we’ll separate these scams according to when you’re most likely to see them throughout the entire process of getting rental assistance.
1. Pay for applications.
Section 8 was initiated to help low-income households get the funding they need to live in safe, affordable housing. Keeping this in mind, do you think you should pay to apply for Section 8? Probably not, although there are scams that urge you to pay them so you can apply for your voucher.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) heads the Section 8 program. By law, they prohibit any fees for housing applications.
In short, if you see a request for an application fee, run the other way. Your most likely to see this on an illegitimate site that tells you to “Apply Now.” Once you click on that button, you don’t get to apply. Instead, you get asked to enter payment information.
2. Having your data sold to marketing companies.
Have you ever noticed that whenever you search online for Section 8 info that you see tons of ads on the subject?
This is not by mistake, as data collection companies pay big bucks for those ads with one purpose in mind: To sell your data.
What happens if you fill out one of their fake Section 8 applications? Your information will be sold to marketing companies so they can hound you with spammy offers. And no, that application will not be official, nor will it help you get a voucher.
If you want to apply for Section 8 rental assistance online, do it via your local Public Housing Agency. Better yet, schedule an interview with them to apply in their office, where you can get additional help should you need it.
3. Pay for vouchers.
Once your Section 8 application is approved, you’ll be put on a waiting list that could take months or years to complete.
If you look online for ways to accelerate the wait, you could be conned into paying for a voucher or moving up in the list, neither of which is possible via payment.
Unless you have unique circumstances, you will have to be patient and wait for your voucher like everyone else.
4. Pay to view, reserve, or get more info on a Section 8 rental.
Once your voucher is on the way or already in place, you’ll want to start looking for Section 8 homes.
A legitimate landlord will gladly let you meet them and view their Section 8 property in person, as well as get any necessary info on it. They won’t ask for money to reserve one, either.
If you see any such requests via online classified sites or anywhere else, do not send any money.