Beware of party planning rental scams

The Better Business Bureau serving the Canton and Greater West Virginia area offers tips and advice for consumers to avoid fraudulent practices.

If you are planning a party and need to rent chairs, decorations, a bouncy house, or other gear, scammers are looking to target you. BBB.org/ScamTracker receives reports of party hosts being tricked into rentals not materializing. Before you plan your next party, get to know this scam to avoid getting tricked.

How the scam works

You are hosting a party and need to rent supplies. You search the web or social media and find a few options. For example, you may find a website that looks legit and has a convenient online reservation system. Or you can message someone through a social media account that looks professional. In any case, the “seller” undertakes to reserve your rental for the date you need it – if you pay a deposit first. They may also ask you to fill out a contact form with your personal data.

Your party date arrives and your rental tent, furniture or other supplies are not delivered. At this point, the “salesperson” may tell you that they had an emergency and cannot deliver on their promise. However, when you ask for your money, the scammers will completely disappear. Other times you cannot contact the rental company at all.

One consumer reported this experience to BBB.org/ScamTracker: “On the day of the event, the rental never came. I called the phone number, and it went directly to an answering machine… I left several messages. None have been fired, and it has now been two months.

How to avoid rental scams

Do your research before renting. Look for the rental company’s website and make sure it has accurate contact information. Then read consumer reviews of the company on third-party websites, such as BBB.org. Also look for the name of the business followed by the word “scam” to make sure you don’t find any reports of fraudulent business transactions.

Be careful with your personal data. You may need to fill out a contract with personal information, but make sure you’re dealing with a legitimate, professional company before submitting sensitive information.

Beware of people contacting you on messaging apps. Legitimate companies may use messaging apps to interact with you, but they are unlikely to contact you out of the blue this way. Even if you’re talking to a company through a messaging app, make sure they have a website and work contact information.

Always pay with a credit card. It’s much easier to dispute fraudulent charges if you use your credit card. If you pay with a debit card or cash, you may not get your money back if you find out you’ve been scammed.

For more information

Get BBB advice on planning a wedding (www.bbb.org/all/wedding) or renting a venue for your next party. Always look for companies that meet BBB accreditation standards and BBB standards for trust.

For information BBB

Visit bbb.org/canton or call 330-454-9401 to find a business, file a complaint, write a customer review, read tips, find our events, follow us on social media.