Con artists love summer! They know it’s the time of year when we just want to unwind, take a break from work and relax, maybe take in a concert, travel a bit, take a vacation or get away for the weekend. These diversions and distractions often cause us to let down our guard and open us to scams.
Here are few summer scams that can burn us in ways no sunscreen can prevent, along with tips to avoid the pain.
• Summer rental scam. You’ve waited until the last minute to book that getaway and worry you waited too long and nothing is available. But, when searching Craigslist, you find an incredible deal on a summer rental. Not wanting to let this one get away, you call the owner or the real estate agent (scammers don’t care which they impersonate). You send a check or wire deposit money. Unfortunately however, the rental you thought you just rented doesn’t exist, or the photos and descriptions were of an actual rental property scammers have copied, and you are out hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.0
Tips before you rent: If they claim to be a real estate agent, ask for their agent’s license number and check it. Never, never wire money. Pay by credit card instead. Google the property to see if it actually exists and the owners name and call directly to verify the property is for rent.
• Ticket scams. Summertime is the time of big events. What’s better than hearing your favorite artist or watching your favorite team take on their big rivals? Buying tickets from ticket brokers or the resale market can open you up to ticket fraud. Not only could you miss out on a great event, you could lose a bunch of money.
Tips before you buy: Purchase from the venue or official ticket agents whenever possible. Buy from only trusted ticket sellers such as Ticketmaster or StubHub. Check with the BBB to see what other customers’ experiences have been. Always use a credit card so you have some protection if the tickets are not as promised. Again never wire money.
• Hotel front desk scam. It’s late at night, and you settled in. The phone in your room rings. It’s a call from the “front desk” saying your credit card was declined. Could you please confirm your account number or have another credit card you could use for payment? You give them the information and forget about it. When your credit card statement arrives you find unauthorized charges made to your account. The “front desk” call was really from a scammer.
Tip: If you get a call from the front desk about your credit card, simply hang up and call the front desk back, or go down in person to confirm your payment method.
• The summer job scam. Your high school or college student is looking for summer employment and searches Craigslist hoping to score that temporary job. The scammer explains during a phone “interview” a background check is necessary. Logical, right? They ask for the student’s private information, including Social Security number. The student waits, but never hears back from them. Why? Their identity has just been stolen.
Tip: This is an opportunity where a student can learn to research, which is invaluable. They must never provide personal information as a requirement of the interview. The student should perform their due diligence, making sure the company and any job is legitimate before furnishing identifying data.
Whether you’re hitting the road for vacation, taking in a concert or looking for a job, keeping a watchful eye could save you time and a whole lot of money.
Cheryl Parson is president of the Better Business bureau serving West Central Ohio. The BBB may be found on the Internet at www.lima.bbb.org.