Scam artists prey on those seeking housing assistance

stock image, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — If you’re looking for Section 8 housing assistance, know that scam artists have made websites look like registration sites for Section 8 waiting list lotteries. If you pay a fee or give your personal information, the thieves will take it and you still won’t be on a real Section 8 waiting list. There is no fee to register for a Section 8 waiting list.

If you search online for the housing assistance program voucher waiting list, the top search results often are scam sites. The sites look very real: their names may say “Section 8,” and they might show a housing opportunity logo.

They ask for fees and your personal information, like your Social Security number, but they won’t do anything for you. The scam artists will keep your money and disappear. They also may give your personal information to identity thieves.

In another twist, some fake sites list affordable housing properties that supposedly are available. They promise you can rent one, if you pay the first month’s rent via wire transfer or a prepaid card. The properties might exist, but the ads are fakes placed by the scam artists. If you pay, you just lose your money.

Here’s the real way things work: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Section 8 program gives funding to local government housing authorities. The local authorities issue housing choice vouchers to help people find housing in privately-owned rental units. To get on the waiting list for a voucher, find your local housing authority and call or email them. Ask how to sign up for the Section 8 waiting list lottery in your area. There is no fee to register.

St. George, Cedar City and Moab have housing authority locations that supply information:

  • St. George, 975 N. 1725 West, Apartment 101, St. George | Phone: 435-628-3648 | Fax: 435-986-0960
  • Cedar City, 364 S. 100 East, Cedar City | Phone: 435-586-8462 | Fax: 435-865-9397
  • Southeastern Utah Grand County, 321 E. Center, Moab | Phone: 435-259-5891 | Fax: 435-259-4938

People have lost money and personal information to thieves – but they’ve also lost the chance to be in the actual lottery. Most people don’t realize they’ve been scammed until after the waiting list is closed.

Treat your Social Security number and other personal information like cash. Don’t give them out on a website you find through a search.

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