Above / The start of summer brings with it a hot list of scams including travel, tickets, utility and storm chasers…(PN File Photo)
Editor’s Note / This “scam alert” joins more than 100 stories on this website from the Naperville Police Department and the Better Business Bureau, featuring ways to protect yourself. Sadly, with the internet and online credit payments, clever con artists have created ways to cheat folks in all shapes and sizes of fraud every season of the year. It never hurts to refresh what you likely already know. —PN
Better Business Bureau Alert!
With the official start of summer, most people look to take some time off to enjoy the warm season. That’s not the case for con artists and fraudsters. For many of them, this is peak season, so you can expect scams to abound.
“Vacation rentals are always at the top of the list,” said Naperville resident Steve J. Bernas, president, and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois in a written statement. “And this year, given the expense of travel or taking any vacation, consumers need to be extra vigilant.”
Bernas added, “If you’re looking to book a vacation house or condo, it is imperative you do your research. Scammers will use listings they find on legitimate sites, passing them off as their own. After you pay the required deposit, they are gone, and so is your money.”
Beware of phone scams & door-to-door imposters with ‘great deals’
During the hottest weather, con artists will call people threatening to cut off their electricity if they don’t pay a fee immediately over the phone. Watch out for impostor door-to-door utility workers offering to upgrade your air conditioner.
Summer also brings out the storm chasers and other home repair scammers. They often go door-to-door offering to repair damage resulting from a storm, or they may claim your roof needs repair. These scammers are always ready to give you a great deal. After you make the down payment, they could disappear. Or, if they do the work, it will be of poor quality and done with substandard materials.
“To prevent yourself from becoming a victim, it’s best to shy away from anyone who knocks on your door with a too-good-to-be-true offer, and always check company backgrounds before buying. A great place to start is at BBB.org,” added Bernas.
Other summer scams featured on social media
• Job scams targeting high school and college students. Job “opportunities” will surface on social media sites offering high-paying positions that require little or no experience. Beware because the ads for the jobs are vague. Often, the interviews are conducted via email and text message. The goal is to separate the students from their money and personal and financial information.
• Ticket rip-offs. Scammers will post available tickets – that don’t exist – for concerts, sports events, and festivals on sites such as Craigslist. Never wire money or send cash for tickets, and be careful of ticket printouts, as scammers will often sell the same printout to multiple individuals.
BBB recommends ways to protect yourself
• Check BBB.org for business reviews and ratings and look for the BBB Seal, The Sign of a Better Business.
• Never pay by gift card or wire transfer to anyone you don’t know.
• Never provide personal or financial information in response to unsolicited emails or texts.
• In vacation rentals, if asked to leave the original website to continue the transaction on another site or via email, don’t do it.
• When the deal seems too good to be true – walk away.
• Before continuing your transaction, do an online search of the individual or business using that name and the word “scam.”
Never be too embarrassed to report a scam
If you have experienced any type of scam, even if you didn’t lose money, report it to BBB Scam Tracker or file an official complaint online with BBB.