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As rental car prices increase in post-pandemic travel, scammers cash in

Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 7:10 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Rental car prices have spiked as the industry grapples with a car shortage and an increase in post-pandemic travel.

Now, some scammers are taking advantage of travelers hoping to find a car for a good price on their next vacation.

The Better Business Bureau says they can’t put a dollar amount on losses because the scam is still so new, but it’s targeting travelers from coast to coast.

“So you come up with some search results and it’s like oh man, I don’t want to be spending that much,” said President of the Better Business Bureau Tom Bartholomy.

If you’re searching for best rental car deals online, you could find cars for hundreds of dollars.

“And so you search and you search and you search, and then all of a sudden you find this one that’s $80.00 a day.”

Before you click and enter your information, the BBB wants you to beware of a potential scam.

“You give them your credit card and then you go on your vacation and you show up to where you’re supposed to pick up your rental car, and there’s no car. There is no rental car agency.”

The phony online ad tricked you into giving your credit card information or other forms of identification.

The scammer may have even asked you to pay using a gift card or prepaid debit card.

“That’s like handing them cash. It’s not going to be retrievable. You’re not going to be able to trace it.”

If you paid with a credit card, call your credit card company, so they can put a temporary freeze on your account.

You might be tempted when you see an ad with the logo of a reputable car rental company.

“You go ahead and click on that ad, and it takes you to a website that looks exactly like Enterprise Rent-A-Car if you’ve gone to their website before, and so it just gives you that comfort level that OK, I’m in the right place, but if you check the URL, the web address doesn’t say Enterprise. It’s just code or some other name.”

Use contact information listed directly on a company website instead of relying on what pops up in a Google search, and don’t be swayed if someone appears to be helpful and knowledgeable on the phone.

“They’re trying to rob you, and so they want to put you at ease and make you feel comfortable in doing business with them.”

Bartholomy says, with summer upon us they’ve been seeing an increase in reports - hundreds of cases nationwide.

People in the Charlotte area are looking for that Florida vacation and may take a suspicious phone call.

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