At least 87 reports of car rental scams were made in 2018 costing victims more than $30,000. This is up from at least 45 cases reported in 2017 and at least 23 reported in 2016.

Car rental scams usually involve victims paying a deposit or the full amount for the rental of a vehicle after responding to advertisements set up by the scammers. Scammers have used a temporary office for added credibility in some cases.

What is a Car Rental Scam?

Scammers posing as rental car companies, setting up their own websites, and advertising fake customer service phone numbers, all to convince travellers they’re legit. Then, they’re asking people to pre-pay for the rental — with a gift card or prepaid debit card. Avoid rental car scammers driving off with your money.

Scammers see this as an opportunity and pretend to be a rental car company, showing up when consumers are calling these numbers. The scam works because people see great deals, and but when they book these rental car companies, scammers ask you to pay with a gift card or a pre-paid debit card.

How to avoid car rental scams

1. Never make payments with prepaid debit card or gift cards: Scammers prefer these payment methods because there is nothing you can do to get your money back. Remember, legitimate companies almost always accept credit or debit cards as the primary means of payment.

2.Use contact information listed directly on the business website: Instead of relying on an Internet search for customer support phone numbers. Always double-check the URL.

3.Beware of sponsored links:Fake websites sometimes pop up in your web browser’s sponsored ad section and appear at the top of the search results. Be careful when clicking. Hover over the URL to be sure it’s the right one.

4.When in doubt, verify special deals directly with the company:If you are unsure about a promotional offer, get the customer service number from the company’s official website. Call the company directly to make sure the deal is real.

After more than a year of stay-at-home orders, the country can’t wait to go on vacation. But before you start searching for a rental car for upcoming vacations, be aware of scam artists.

If you want to make sure you’re calling a real rental car company, make sure you are getting their number from their official website and not a number that pops up in a search engine’s results. To start staying one step ahead of the bad guys, why not subscribe to security awareness programmes from companies like Siccura.