In an ideal world, worrying about sunburn or figuring out how to stay cool when the weather heats up would be our biggest concern during the summer. Unfortunately, scammers never take a vacation and are always on the prowl for victims. While enjoying the lazy days of summer, Business Consumer Alliance wants to warn you of seven common scams you don’t want to sleep on.
Knock- Knock Scams. Door-to-door scams happen frequently during the summer. The elderly, in particular, are often targeted. Fraudsters knock on doors, claiming they are doing work for a neighbor and offering their services. Or they may claim they are looking for donations for various causes. Don’t trust what you hear. They may be out to steal your money—or worse—they can harm you.
Before agreeing to services, do your homework. Start by getting a business report from BCA. Check to see if they are properly licensed and get everything in writing. Don’t pay anything until the work is done and you are satisfied with their services.
Vacation and Rental Scams. Summer is usually vacation travel time. This is also the time when shady telemarketers solicit consumers, offering free vacations or unbelievable travel discounts. These so called “free” vacations are usually anything but. They often require the consumer to pay fees or to join a membership club, which can end up being expensive and many times not as described.
Scammers also post fake ads offering too good to be true offers on vacation rentals. They create websites and use the information from legitimate rentals to scam consumers into paying them. Interested consumers are instructed to wire deposits or send money orders to make their reservations, only to later find out they have been conned. BCA has received numerous complaints from duped consumers that have been tricked into paying for a nightmare vacation. Some have made travel arrangements, paid for flights and rental cars, only to show up to a residence that is not for rent, already booked by someone else, listed for far more than the scammer’s listing price, or the property looks nothing like the advertisement.
Check out BCA’s Blog Trip Out: Avoiding Vacation Scams for tips on how to avoid these types of scams.
Hotel Scams. Scammers have no regard for who they scam. Interestingly, some use hotel scams to illegally obtain vacationers’ credit card information. Here are two ways these scams work. You check in and get a call from someone claiming to be a front desk employee. They claim there is a problem with your credit card and they need to have the information confirmed. Another involves crooks creating and leaving fake menus so that when unsuspecting consumers call to place an order, they get their credit card or banking information.
To avoid falling victim, never give your information out to someone that contacts you over the phone. Hang up and call the front desk directly yourself to confirm if there is a problem or not. Or go to the desk in person. To avoid menu scams, ask the hotel for restaurant suggestions or order food from secure online apps that you have verified.
Moving Scams. Moving day scams come in various forms. One of the most common is when moving companies provide low quotes to complete a move but after loading their trucks, they hold items hostage and increase the price of the move considerably. Other moving scams involve fake moving companies advertising their services but offering no real contact information. They may only answer the phone by saying “moving company” or only provide a phone number to contact them.
Confirm that any mover you plan to use is licensed and insured. Verify that they have a physical location, not just a mail drop box or post office box. Check references, read reviews and complaints, and obtain all promises, guarantees and quotes in writing. It is a good idea to buy extra insurance. Also, when the movers arrive, check that they are the actual company you booked a move with and not someone else. Their information should be on the contract and on the truck they arrive in.
Summer Job Scams. Employment scams happen year-round, but especially during the summer months when youths are out of school and looking for jobs. From stuffing envelopes, reshipping schemes, to bogus sales offers, it is important to do thorough research on any job offer being considered before sharing any personal information. One tell-tale sign of an employment scam is if you have to pay money to receive a job. The whole purpose of employment is to make money so if you are asked to pay any fee or provide your credit card or bank information to secure a job, it is a scam.
Concert, Festival, and Ticket Scams. Just like with other scams, fraudsters set up counterfeit websites and advertise all over the Internet, social media, and other avenues, tickets to popular concerts and events. They usually use low prices or “exclusive” offers to entice consumers to make a purchase, only later to find out they have been duped. Only purchase tickets from reputable ticket sellers. Check out BCA’s Directory for lists of companies and view their reports.
Wi-Fi Scams. While many places offer free Wi-Fi, always use caution before signing into various Internet networks. The connection may not be secure and some of the networks may be set up by scammers who only want to steal your information or highjack your device.
Other Ways to Protect Yourself
In addition to the tips above, here are some general guidelines to keep in mind year-round to avoid being defrauded:
Safeguard your information. Never provide any personal or financial information to anyone until you have checked the offer out and know how your information will be used.
Never wire money to anyone you do not know.
Use a credit card, if possible, when completing transactions so that you have protections if you are defrauded or run into problems.
Before you pay, check BCA!