Summer brings us many things, including sunshine, warmer weather and, for many, backyard parties and vacations. Trips to the beach and dips in the pool are also good ideas, depending on how much free time you have.
But while most of us see this time of the year as a season to relax a bit, there are others out there who will try to take advantage of us doing so. Scammers are out there who see summer as the prime season for certain tricks which, if we fall for them, will make our lives miserable.
As you know from reading Komando.com there are always plenty of scams to be aware of, but there are five that are more likely to try and trap you this summer. To make sure you avoid them, it’s best to know what they are.
Be wary of that cheap vacation rental
Here’s what happens: You will be online and see an ad for a really nice vacation rental at a crazy good price. Interested, you check it out and are prompted to provide an advance payment in order to book the place.
Unfortunately, what happens after that is usually nothing. Either the contract for the place never shows up or maybe you do get it, but it means absolutely nothing. You may very well go to the place you thought you rented, only to realize you aren’t allowed in.
How do you best avoid this one? Stay away from vacation rentals that are posted on free sites like Craigslist, and instead use a legitimate third-party organization to help find a rental. It also would not be a bad idea to visit the house or apartment before paying any money for it.
There’s also the home improvement scam
Summer often makes for a good time to get some work done on the house, which is why this scam works pretty well. What will happen is someone claiming to be a contractor will randomly show up at your house saying they are doing some work nearby and have some extra materials.
That, or they’ll take a look at something around your house and tell you it needs to be fixed, even if it doesn’t. Whichever route they go, the end result is that you pay them for work that is either shoddy, unnecessary or never even gets done.
How do you avoid this one? Be mindful of anyone who just randomly offers you some home repairs and, like any contractor work, get referrals from others before making a hire. Also, be sure to verify that the contractor is licensed and running a legitimate operation.
The alarm system that isn’t actually free
Scammers may take advantage of people being home by showing up at their door talking about a recent issue of burglaries in the neighborhood. They follow that up by saying you are eligible for a free home security system, which all of a sudden sounds really great.
The salesman will say you must sign a long-term contract for the company’s monitoring services, however, and may also falsely say that you have to act quickly to take advantage of a limited-time offer.
Another version of the scam involves someone claiming to be a representative for your current alarm company and that they are upgrading the customer’s equipment. But rather than upgrade what you have, they instead put in a different company’s alarm system and trick you into signing a second monitoring agreement.
How do you avoid this one? The best thing you can do is never buy a security system from someone who just shows up at your home or calls you with an offer that seems way too good to be true. Instead, look into how to choose a security system by doing research online and with talking to others.
If you are looking to move, this scam may find you
For many, summer means moving. Unfortunately, we don’t all know people with big trucks who are willing to help, so instead we seek out professionals.
That shouldn’t seem too hard, but it’s important to know that if you find one that seems to be charging an unreasonably low rate, there’s a chance the stuff they are transporting for you will never arrive in your new place.
Instead, what they’ll do is hold your stuff hostage until you pay more money. This scam is more common than you would think, and is something you certainly want no part of.
How do you avoid this one? If you are moving, perhaps out of state, make sure the company you choose has a real Department of Transportation number as well as a carrier number from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. If you are moving in-state, check with your state’s licensing requirements and no matter what kind of move you are making, look into the company and even see if you know someone who has a recommendation.
That cheap hotel stay may not be what you think it is
If you’re searching online for a hotel to book, you may find one that looks good and has a cheap price. The ad shows the hotel and rooms, along with the address and phone number, amenities and prices.
By all accounts it looks legitimate, but the site is actually run by a third party, and not the hotel. You give them your credit card information and may find that no reservation was made, but the scammer now has your information.
In some cases the reservation does actually get made, only you are charged more than the hotel’s actual rates.
How do you avoid this one? Make sure that when you are looking for a hotel online, read all about the place you are booking through. It may turn out to be a third-party operation. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as some third-party businesses are legitimate and helpful. But you’ll want to make sure that’s the case if you use one.