BBB warns Illinois residents about rental car scams

The country's rental car shortage has led to an increase in scams designed to steal money from unsuspecting rental car customers, according to the Better Business Bureau:

Steve Bernas, president and CEO of BBB of Chicago and Northern Illinois, said scammers will pose as rental car companies and offer a "special promotion" that requires people to pay for the rental upfront. In many cases, the rental car doesn't even exist.

The scammer will insist you pay for the car with a gift card or prepaid debit card and share the PIN with the representative.


"Paying with a gift card or debit card is always the tipoff to the ripoff," Bernas said.

The BBB issued the following advice for avoiding rental car scams:

  • Never make payments with prepaid debit cards or gift cards. Scammers prefer these payment methods because there is nothing you can do to get your money back. Remember, legitimate companies almost always accept credit cards as the primary means of payment.
  • Use the contact information listed directly on the business's website instead of relying on an internet search for customer support phone numbers (double-check the URL).
  • Beware of sponsored links. Fake websites sometimes pop up in your web browser’s sponsored ad section and appear at the top of the search results. Be careful when clicking! Please hover over the URL to be sure it's the right one.
  • When in doubt, verify special deals directly with the company. If you are unsure about a promotional offer, get the customer service number from the company’s official website. Call the company directly to make sure the deal is real.

For more information, visit the BBB website.