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BBB Reminds Wisconsin Residents to Be Cautious When Renting Items for Parties

Tuesday, April 16th, 2024 -- 12:00 PM


Planning a party? If you need to rent chairs, decorations, a bouncy house, or any other supplies, take extra caution when searching for rentals.

BBB Scam Tracker continues to receive reports of party hosts being tricked by rentals that don’t materialize. Before planning your next party, get to know this scam to avoid being conned. How does the scam work? You are planning a party and need to rent supplies.

You do a web or social media search and find a few options. For example, you may find a legitimate website with a convenient online booking system. Or you might message someone through a social media account that seems professional.

Either way, the “vendor” promises to reserve your rental for the date you need it, if you pay a deposit first. They may also require you to fill out a contact form with your personal details. The date of your party arrives, and your rental tent, furniture, or other supplies don’t arrive.

At this point, the “vendor” may tell you they’ve had an emergency and can’t deliver on their promise. However, the scammers will disappear completely when you ask for your money back. Other times, you can’t contact the rental company at all.

For example, if you originally contacted the vendor on social media, they may have blocked you or deleted their account. Avoid rental scams by doing your research before you rent. Take a good look at the rental company’s website and ensure it has accurate contact information.

Then, read consumer reviews about the company on third-party websites, such as BBB.org. Also, search the business name plus the word “scam” to ensure you don’t find any reports of fraudulent business dealings.

You can also look up the business on BBB Scam Tracker to see if any recent reports have been filed by other consumers. Think twice when renting from listings only advertised on social media.

Take caution if you find party rentals on social media but cannot find the company’s website or confirm their contact information anywhere else. If the rental business only contacts you and facilitates the rental transaction through social media and refuses to talk on the phone or in person, that’s another red flag.

Be wary of people who contact you on messaging apps. Legitimate businesses may use messaging apps to interact with you, but it’s unlikely they will initiate a conversation and contact you out of the blue this way.

Again, even if you speak with a business through a messaging app or social media, ensure they have a website and working contact information. Be careful with your personal details.

You may need to fill out a contract with personal information, but ensure you are dealing with a legitimate, professional company first before handing over sensitive personal and financial information.

Review your contract. It’s common to have a contract in place when you order rentals from a company. Review your contract carefully and ensure that your delivery date and time are accurate, as well as the final cost and payment details.

Check to ensure the contract doesn’t outline any phony fees or other extra costs you weren’t anticipating. Save a copy of the contract that is signed and dated by both you and the company. Consider how the company is asking you to provide payment

Oftentimes, scammers will ask you to provide payment through a digital wallet app or a wire transfer. Don’t ever hand over money or your payment information to a stranger or someone you haven’t met. If you do pay, remember that it’s much easier to dispute fraudulent charges using your credit card.

If you pay with a debit card, digital wallet, or cash, you may not get your money back if you find out you were scammed. If the cost of the rental down payment seems too high, do more research and get quotes from other rental companies.

Feel free to contact us with questions and/or comments.