In the summer, fraud and scam calls can get more frequent and intense. So how do you spot a fake?
What are some of the most common summer scams?
The rental scam is one of the biggest for the summer. Scammers list houses and condos for rent that are legitimate rentals that they have lifted from other sites. After you pay, the host goes silent and you learn the booking wasn’t legit. Another popular summer scam is unsolicited “storm damage” or home maintenance. The scam is that you make a down payment and the work doesn’t get done or work is completed that isn’t really needed. Social media scams especially around concert tickets, jobs or college scholarships are big during the summer. The final one is the Government imposter calls or emails that can range from supposed IRS agents to Medicaid or Medicare that focus on threats and fear to be successful.
What are some of the signs that should make us suspicious?
Asking to wire funds or go outside booking site should be a big tip-off that something is amiss with the deal. For the contractor frauds, whenever there is a limited-time offer on rates or they have extra materials that are deeply discounted, you should get suspicious. Whenever you hear free in relation to concert tickets or unclaimed scholarships be very wary. Free is usually not free and as soon as they ask for personal information or financial accounts you should be concerned. If you get a call from someone with threats of arrest or fines asking you to make a quick decision is another time that you need to proceed with caution.
What are the most important ways to protect ourselves?
We need to use our superpowers, knowledge being the most important one. It starts with being aware of possible scams and frauds. You also need to never feel pressured into making a quick decision about giving out your identity or credit card or bank account information. Always be very suspicious of anything that seems too good to be true. When you have this feeling, trust your instincts and verify independently. If somebody wants you to do something out of the ordinary, stop and remember, that most scammers can see very nice and attentive. Charm and fear are the two greatest motivators of getting people to do something they wouldn’t normally even consider.
Are there any tools or resources that can help us stay informed?
The FTC collects and reports information about frauds and scams. They have one of the most comprehensive databases of these reports. You can also get information from the Indiana Attorney General’s office for a report of local frauds and crimes. A quick internet search of ratings about companies can also be a great way to find out if a company has any complaints or issues. Most financial institutions can also be a good resource to learn more about common scams and frauds that are occurring. There are also organizations such as AARP, credit reporting agencies and other consumer protection groups that routinely publish information about scams and frauds. You can visit these sites to gather information and sometimes even report potential frauds or scams that you have become aware of recently.