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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Consider safety tips before booking summer travel plans

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CHICAGO – June 2024 – With summer vacation season full steam ahead, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns that vigilance against fraud must not take a holiday. With con artists seizing this peak season to intensify their deceptive activities, the BBB is proactively spearheading efforts to safeguard consumers.

Consider staying informed and protected by following the BBB’s timely advice and resources to combat these seasonal scams.

“Vacation rentals and travel are at the top of the list, so consumers must be extra vigilant,” said Naperville resident Steve J. Bernas, BBB president and CEO. “If you’re looking to book a vacation house or condo, it is imperative to research the company. Scammers will copy and paste 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 fake websites, phony phone numbers, imposters

The public should be vigilant about fake websites, fraudulent phone numbers and imposter airline booking agents. 

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. Hang up the phone and contact the company directly if you have any concerns. 

“ComEd will never call or visit you to request direct payment through prepayment cards, cryptocurrencies, or third-party apps. We also won’t ask for your account number, personal information, or bank details. Always be cautious about sharing any information related to your ComEd account,” said Scott Vogt, Vice President of Strategy and Energy Policy at ComEd. “ComEd employees are always identifiable by their uniforms, which feature our logo, and they carry company ID badges. If you are ever unsure about someone claiming to be from ComEd, ask them to wait outside and call us to verify their identity at 800-EDISON1 (800-334-7661).”

Bernas says, “Watch out for impostor door-to-door utility workers offering to upgrade, fix, or inspect your air conditioner. Fraudsters also pose as security system representatives. Never let any stranger into your home unless you know the company and reached out to them to do repairs or maintenance.”

Summer also brings out the storm chasers and other home repair scammers. They offer to repair damage resulting from a storm, or they may claim your driveway or roof needs repair.

Bernas notes, “These fraudsters are always ready to give you a great deal. After you make the down payment, they disappear. Or, if they actually do the work, it will be of poor quality and done with substandard materials. A scammer typically demands cash upfront, or tries to sign you up for something on the spot.” 

Although not all storm chasers are scammers, they may lack the proper licensing for your area, offer quick fixes, or make big promises they can’t deliver.

BBB recommends protecting yourself every day

  • Check BBB.org for business reviews and ratings and look for the BBB Seal, The Sign of a Better Business. 
  • Never give personal or financial information in response to unsolicited emails or texts. Also check for grammar and spelling errors.
  • Check the URL to make sure the website is secure (https://).
  • With vacation rentals, if asked to leave the original website to continue the transaction on another site or via email, don’t do it. 
  • Never pay cash upfront or sign a contract until you have time to review the company. Illinois state law requires a contract for any project costing over $1,000.
  • Search online for the contractor’s name and the word “scam.”
  • Pay bills with a credit card. That provides much more protection than a debit card.
  • Never let anyone inside your home without thoroughly checking their background and discussing it with trusted neighbors or family.

Report scams / Sign up for BBB consumer newsletter

If you’ve spotted a scam, report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Sign up for BBB’s free consumer newsletter, BBB Edge, at BBB.org/ChicagoBuzz

Better Business Bureau of Chicago since 1926

BBB of Chicago and Northern Illinois is a nonprofit organization that has served consumers and trustworthy businesses for 98 years and is a part of the IABBB. We help protect consumers from scams and provide a free database for consumers to see business ratings and reviews to find businesses they can trust. We connect customers to businesses they can trust.

The International Association of Better Business Bureaus (IABBB) is the network hub for BBBs in the U.S. and parts of Canada.

Editor’s Note / For a long list of PN posts featuring seasonal scam alerts of all types from the Naperville Police Department and Better Business Bureau, click here. 

Be prudent! Be forewarned not to fall for the lines of bogus salespeople. Be mindful of the phrase “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” The old saying is meant to be a warning that reminds everyone not to be taken in by phony manipulation via phone, internet or mail.

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PN Editor
PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.
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