3. Concert and Theater Scams
Similar to vacation scams, these scams start with someone contacting you, or you respond to an advertisement that you see posted online. The scammer says they're selling tickets for a band you've been following for years or a hot show. They'll excitedly tell you about the venue and the great value you're getting.
The tickets aren’t free, but they are theoretically discounted. Once they ask you to wire money or submit credit card information, you may not even know it’s a hoax. Tickets can be easy to reproduce with the right gear. You may not know you’ve been taken until you’re turned away at the event because the tickets were fake.
4. Moving Scam
Late summer is one of the busiest times of year to move into a new home. Whether you’re a student switching apartments or a parent moving to a better school district, you’ll probably find yourself migrating on a sunny weekend in August.
Fake moving companies may call you, or drop you an email, or leave a flyer on your doorstep. In the ugliest situations, the company will quote a number verbally, move you into your new home, and then demand far more money than you expected. There are some cases of “movers” packing all your worldly possessions into a truck and then driving off with it.
Do not fall for this scam. Most moving companies will offer to come to your home to see how much furniture they’ll need to move. They will give you a written estimate. They are bonded and have insurance. You get the point.
Here's how to stay safe: Check BBB.org to see if the moving company is a reputable business. Then, have the movers come to your house before the move. Ask them for a final estimate before you pay.
5. Owed Money Scam
Everybody loves automatic payments because they save time writing checks or looking up charges. But as the years wear on, you may have forgotten to pay up. Cards expire, payments fail to go through, and we forget about them. We may even miscalculate our taxes, resulting in a bill and monthly fine.
So when we receive a letter in the mail marked “Urgent: Payment Requested,” we often think we’ve done something wrong. Did you forget to pay a cable bill in 2007, and should you send a check for $72.89 now? The information is so specific, why should you doubt the letter’s sender? The last thing you want is a collections agency on your tail, so why not just pay the fee and get it over with?
In this case, you should make sure the collector is real. It is perfectly reasonable to receive a letter from a collections agency, especially if you’ve moved a lot or are forgetful about paperwork. But before you send any money, spend a few minutes to see whether this company is legit.
Speaking of money, there is one legitimate way you may get money back that you totally forgot about.
Bonus: No scam! Find your unclaimed money
Right now, there's an estimated $41.7 billion currently held in government unclaimed property programs, and some of that unclaimed money could be yours. Maybe you forgot to get that deposit back from the electric utility when you rented your first apartment. An insurance company may have issued you a refund on a policy but couldn't find you. You might have been enrolled in a pension plan that was discontinued.
In addition to utility refunds and insurance payments, unclaimed property includes abandoned savings or checking accounts, stocks, uncashed dividends or payroll checks, refunds, traveler's checks, trust distributions, unredeemed money orders or gift certificates (in some states), annuities, certificates of deposit, customer overpayments, mineral royalty payments and contents of safe deposit boxes. Whew!
How else can you protect yourself from thieves? Be sure to listen or download my podcasts, or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.