There is a new scam targeting downtown Madison tenants, many of them students and first-time renters. Many residents have received paper notices in their doors advertising a $215 rent credit if they start making online payments to a new management company called H&H Apartments at 7473 Ellington Court in Middleton. This fake and predatory offer requests the tenant's name, date of birth, social security number, and credit card information (including the CVV code and expiration date). This is a scam, and puts tenants at risk for identity theft as well as financial damages. Tenants should ignore the notice and alert their neighbors and their landlord if they receive one.
Many of the larger management companies do offer online rent payments through their websites, but tenants enter their own information through a secure, third-party payment system. Other landlords offer direct deposits from the tenant's banking account, but this requires a cancelled check given to the landlord as listed on their lease, often when they first sign the lease. Usually there is a small fee for online payments -- not a rent credit! Some landlords may chose to offer an "early rent payment" option instead of a late fee, but this is generally around 5% of the tenant's rent -- not hundreds of dollars!
Any time there is a change in management the law requires the new landlord to tell the tenant(s) in writing within 10 business days of the person who collects rent and can receive legal papers, the person who manages the building, and the person to contact for repairs. ATCP 134.04(1)(c) and MGO 32.08(1)(d) If tenants have any doubts about a notice of new management, they should contact their landlord and get confirmation in writing.
If a tenant falls prey to this (or any other) credit scam, they should immediately cancel their credit card(s) and contact their financial institutions for advice. They may also want to place an identity fraud alert with the national credit bureaus. Unfortunately, there is no protection against eviction for tenants who cannot pay their rent because of theft. Low-income tenants may be able to get assistance paying rent, and all tenants should communicate with their landlords as soon as they know they'll be late or short on rent, explain what happened, and ask for a payment plan.