After two years of the Coronavirus pandemic, more and more people are taking a summer vacation this year 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 high 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. Victims of this scam are finding themselves without a car and losing the money they paid for the non-existent car rental.
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.
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