Originally Published: July 12, 2015 6 a.m.
The Arizona Department of Housing (ADOH) is warning consumers who are seeking Section 8 housing to be cautious of fraudulent solicitations and websites.
Section 8 housing, also known as the housing choice voucher program, is the federal government's major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly and the disabled to afford decent, safe and sanitary housing in the private market, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The Federal Trade Commission is reporting that scammers have posted fake Section 8 waiting-list lottery sites that ask for personal information and even fees, but don't enroll victims on lists. Some offer housing listings in exchange for a month's rent via wire transfer or prepaid card.
These fake websites look similar to registration sites for Section 8 waiting lists; however, housing authorities do not charge fees, and they will not reach out to you by phone or email to suggest that you join a waiting list. A housing authority also will never ask you to wire money or pay with a prepaid card. Those are sure signs of a scam.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued tips to help consumers avoid becoming victim to this scam:
Contact your local housing authority to find out how to register for the Section 8 waiting list. If you do not have this information, it can be found on the HUD website (www.HUD.gov)
Know that housing authorities do not charge fees, and they won't reach out to you by phone or email to suggest that you join a waiting list. A housing authority also will never ask you to wire money or pay with a prepaid card.
Treat your Social Security number and other personal information, such as credit card number, like cash.
If you believe you have come across this type of consumer fraud, ADOH is asking that you contact the Arizona Attorney General's Office at 602-542-5763. You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) through their website at www.ftc.gov/complaint, or by email to HUD at email@example.com.
Only U.S. citizens and certain categories of non-citizens are eligible for a housing voucher depending on their total annual gross income and family size. In general, the family's income cannot exceed 50 percent of the median income in the county or metropolitan area they live in to qualify, according to HUD.
To view the median income for families in Yavapai County based on the number of people in the family, you can visit http://bit.ly/1K0ZpED.
For additional information about Section 8 fraud, call the FTC at 1-877-382-4357, or HUD's Public Housing Authority at 1-800-955-2232.
Follow Max Efrein on
Twitter @mefrein. Reach him at 928-642-7864.