The New York State Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection warns of scams targeting military personnel and their families. Because those serving in the military tend to have atypical work schedules, long absences from home and frequent relocations, their families become the targets of scams. In the rush to find a new suitable place to live after receiving orders for a permanent change of station, military personnel and their families can become the target of rental housing scams through fabricated advertisements and nonexistent property listings.
Scammers create and alter listings for properties to rent online through booking websites, like Craigslist. These listings claim to be for houses in reputable neighborhoods, offering an unusually low price and/or military discount. Once the consumer expresses interest in the property, the scammer says that they are unable to meet in person, due to extenuating circumstances, for example, participating in a humanitarian mission overseas.
The scammer insists that the consumer can just wire the money, in exchange for keys to the property. In addition, the scammer may also request the consumer’s social security number and credit card information to perform a background check. The keys may be forged or simply never arrive. If the keys do arrive, the consumer later finds either a nonexistent property or an already occupied house. Because wire transfers are untraceable, these consumers are left without a home, reduced savings and vulnerable to future identity theft.
In honor of the hard work that our military personnel put in every day and Military Consumer Protection Day, the Division of Consumer Protection has these tips to help keep you and your family safe: