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MSHDA, AG Nessel warn about housing voucher scam

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) and Michigan’s Attorney General Dana Nessel are warning Michiganders to be aware of fake social media accounts and web pages asking for information that could be used for identity theft or financial gain. 

In a press release on June 11, Lisa Kemmis, MSHDA’s Rental Assistance and Homeless Solutions director, announced, “We are receiving reports that there is a non-government entity using the “Michigan Housing Development Authority” name with our trademarked logo to promote fake housing voucher programs on Facebook and in person. They are also using the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) name and fair housing logos on flyers and online advertisements.” Kemmis continued, warning that, “This is fraudulent information, and individuals should not provide their personal information to folks through the provided links or contacts listed on these pages or documents.” 

Attorney General Nessel said in the press release, “Bad actors will use any opportunity they can find to scam unsuspecting people–even going as far as to impersonate state and federal agencies. I hope everyone will take the time to read this warning from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority and visit my website to learn the many ways imposter scams target consumers. As always, my Consumer Protection Team stands ready to help if needed.” 

For current and accurate information about MSHDA’s open waiting lists, visit the MSHDA Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Waiting List Information page on the MSHDA website. Those interested can also email MSHDA-RAHS@michigan.gov or call MSHDA’s Lansing office at 517-241-0809. If you believe you have been the victim of a scam, you are encouraged to file a police report and contact the Michigan Department of Attorney General Consumer Protection Team at P.O. Box 30123, Lansing, MI 48909; fax 517-335-7599, call toll-free 877-765-8388, or file an online complaint form. 

Express VPN’s Blog offers several tips for recognizing a scam, and what to do if you are contacted by a potential scammer. The first warning sign is being randomly contacted by a phone number, email, or social media account you don’t recognize. This is often accompanied by a sense of urgency, and can include phrases like, “Act now or lose your chance!” If a potential scammer claims they need you to take immediate action, remain cautious.

It’s also common for scammers to ask for personal information, such as in the MSHDA scams. Do not give out names, addresses, account numbers, or any other information unless you are positive you know who you’re talking to.

It’s also common for scammers to ask that money be sent through unusual methods like gift cards, prepaid debit cards, or wire transfers. Scammers prefer these methods because it’s difficult to trace these payments to the scammer.

Another red flag to watch for is secrecy. Scammers will ask that you keep communication secret, as they’re worried someone you talk to about the interaction will realize it’s a scam and warn you.

Finally, watch out for offers that are too good to be true. Offers that seem attractive and insanely good are most likely a scam. 

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