An Echo Press Editorial: Steer clear of these 5 summer scams
By the Echo Press Editorial Board
It’s summertime and the livin’ is easy.
Especially if you’re a scammer.
Con artists love this time of year and are always coming up with innovative new ways of stealing identities and grabbing cash from hard-working people.
But families, the elderly and consumers can fight back. It starts with being aware of the popular tactics that scammers will sink to. The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota presents these top five summer scams to watch out for and how to stay a step ahead of the fraudsters:
Contractor scams. Scammers will try to solicit you through a knock on your door, a flyer, or advertisement. Once you talk with them, they use high-pressure sales tactics, ask for cash-only deals, or have offers that seem too good or too convenient. To protect yourself, BBB recommends avoiding high up-front payments and cash-only deals; doing your research before you buy or sign; and being cautious any time a home contractor contacts you first.
Employment scams. Scammers will send you an email that appears to come from your college, job board, or directly from an employer. The application and interview process will be very easy or non-existent, and you will get a quick offer. Once you are "hired", the company will send you a check to buy supplies, gift cards, or prepaid debit cards. They will ask you to send part of it back to your employer and the rest of it you keep as your "payment", though you haven't done any work yet. The check is a fake and if you purchase any of the gift cards or supplies, you will lose your money. Red flags to look out for are vague or none existent job descriptions; being hired very quickly, often without an interview; and receiving any payment without completing work or sending them money for any reason.
Moving scams. You are moving so you find a moving company that says they can complete the job for you at a reasonable price. You give them an estimate of the amount of stuff, and they give you a quote for the cost. When they show up to move your stuff, they either claim there is more than you estimated or there are new fees and they are requesting more money, or, they drive away with your stuff and hold it hostage until you pay them more money. To protect yourself from a situation like this, always research the company before paying. Make sure the company's website has information about their address, registration, and insurance. Steer clear of companies requesting large up-front payments or that won't answer all of your questions.
Travel scams. You get an offer over the phone or online telling you you've "won" a free vacation somewhere, though you never entered a contest. They claim to be an airline, hotel, or third party company. When you arrive for this vacation that is supposed to be free, the hotel, cruise, or rental company claims there are fees that you have to pay. To stay safe from travel-related scams, BBB recommends always reading the fine print before signing, keeping detailed receipts, and being cautious of any call claiming you've won a "free" trip that you didn't enter.
Ticketing scams. You find tickets online to go to a big concert or event that is coming to town. You are so excited because you got a good deal, or the show was sold out. When you get to the venue to scan your tickets, it doesn't go through because your ticket is invalid. BBB recommends only purchasing tickets through licensed resellers, researching to see if the reseller is a member of the National Association of Ticket Brokers, and using credit cards or purchasing directly through the venue.
If you’ve been the victim of any of these scams, report it on BBB.org/ScamTracker . Your experience can help others to recognize suspicious behavior and stop scammers in their tracks.