With the Coronavirus pandemic starting to wane, more and more people are intending to take a summer vacation and for many people that means renting a car.  The bad news is that due to so many people wanting to rent cars there is both a shortage of cars to rent and the cost of renting a car has increased in many cases dramatically.  However, your friendly neighborhood scammer is more than willing to help you out.  They are setting up phony car rental company websites and websites that appear to be those of legitimate car rental companies such as Avis or Hertz.  Often these phony websites appear high on a Google or other search engine search because the more sophisticated scammers are able to manipulate the algorithms used by search engines to position a website in a search result.   In other instances, the scammers take out ads for their phony websites that place them at the top of the first page in a Google or other search engine search.   Already, many victims of this scam are finding themselves without a car and losing the money they paid for the non-existent car rental.

In tomorrow’s Sam of the day, I will tell you about a scam that can occur even when you rent a car from a legitimate car rental company.

TIPS

The phony websites can look quite legitimate and be hard to distinguish from the websites of real car rental companies.  Always check the URL of the website you use carefully before responding to an offer for a car rental.  You also may want to go the extra step and actually do a search to determine who owns the website you are on.  There are a number of ways of doing this.  One of the easiest is to go to ICANN and enter the domain name and click on “lookup.”  This will enable you to find out who actually owns the website.  So for instance, if you think you are renting from Hertz and the website you are on is owned by someone in Nigeria, you can be pretty confident it is a scam.  Here is the link to ICANN  https://lookup.icann.org/

One of the primary ways of knowing that you are dealing with a scammer is that often they ask for payment through gift cards.  Gift cards are a favorite means of payment for scammers because once you give the scammer the gift card numbers over the phone or the Internet, the money is gone and cannot be easily traced or recovered. Some scammers tell you that you will get a special low rate on your car rental if you use a gift card.  Legitimate companies never ask for payment by way of gift cards so anytime you are asked for payment through a gift card, you can be sure it is a scam.

For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.”  Scamicide has been cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.

If you are not a subscriber to Scamicide.com and would like to receive daily emails with the Scam of the day, all you need to do is sign up for free using this link. https://scamicide.com/scam-of-the-day/