Turn to Tara: Rental car scams are on the rise. Here are the tips you need to know to stay safe
As more and more families across the tri-state hit the road this summer, News 12’s Turn to Tara investigative team is discovering "imposter websites" - criminals posing as rental car companies.
Consumer watchdogs tell Tara Rosenblum that car rental scams are heating up once again due to “high demand” and the still tight “supply chain.”
Here's how the scams typically go down. An unsuspecting consumer heads online and searches forservices using words like “cheap car rentals,” which sends them to ads for phony websites and even fake customer service lines where too good to be true deals await.
“They are going to promise you the moon and the stars and suggest that you pay for it with a gift card or a prepaid debit card,” says Mike Quincy, of consumer reports. “That is absolute nonsense. You know, run, don't walk, away from that kind of proposal.”
But unfortunately, that advice arrives too late for far too many travelers across New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, where complaints to the Better Business Bureau have surged to an all-time high.
For example, a Staten Island woman, reported a $400 loss after a criminal posed as a budget car rental representative.
Another victim from New Jersey claims he pre-paid for a reservation with a gift card but had no idea he was even scammed until he showed up and was told no reservation existed.
Here are some tips on how you can avoid getting scammed too:
- Be on the lookout for ads with spelling errors or bad grammar.
- Consider booking directly on the company's website, as opposed to linking through an online ad.
- And when you book, use your credit card - since most cards offer fraud protection.
- When in doubt, look up the phone number and call the car company directly to verify the deal.