Scammers try to cash in on rental car shortage

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Are you planning to travel this summer? You might want to be careful before you rent a car.

The Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South says scammers are posing as rental companies and posting low prices online to lure victims.

The rental car shortage is causing prices to skyrocket, and scammers have found a clever way to cash in.

“I wish I would be more alert and more in play because I am 69 years old, and this has never happened to me before,” Linda Miller said.

Miller was recently trying to rent a car to go to Nashville for her 50th wedding anniversary. She googled the number to what she thought was a legitimate car rental company.

The person who answered claimed to be with Avis.

“She confirmed the car for me, gave me confirmation and everything, and said now the only way you can get this car is if you have an American Express card,” she said.

The woman asked Miller to pay for the rental with a pre-paid American Express card. She even sent Miller a photo of a Chevy Suburban.

When Miller went to pick it up, Avis told her she had been scammed.

“They informed me that they had no car for me, and the confirmation I had received was a bogus confirmation,” she said.

The BBB of the Mid-South said scammers are taking advantage of inflation and the rental car shortage to con people out of their money.

Daniel Irwin said scammers are setting up their own websites pretending to be rental car companies and advertising fake customer service numbers to convince travelers they are legit.

“If you know what the going rates are for a rental car, and then all of a sudden you’re able to get a Chevy Tahoe for an entire week for only $150, that’s too good to be true,” he said.

Miller said the situation had taught her to be more careful.

“If you’re not on the place where you are supposed to be to rent a car or even buy a hamburger, don’t give them money upfront,” she said.

The BBB said you should always look for a company’s customer support number on their official website instead of searching for it online.

Avis’s website also says they only accept pre-paid gift cards at the end of the rental.