The best defense against a scam is staying informed! Learning what scammers are up to – and talking about the issue of scams with friends and family – can help everyone to better protect themselves and their finances. Here are six scams to watch out for this summer.
1. Timeshare Purchase or Resale Scam
A timeshare means that you pay money up front to use a vacation property for a certain amount of time each year. Sadly, many timeshare sales presentations are designed to confuse or pressure attendees into paying for a property that’s worth far less than the price tag. Nowadays, savvy travelers usually choose a rental property instead, as these are more flexible, cheaper and often nicer than a timeshare. On the other hand, if you’ve already purchased a timeshare and you’re looking to sell it, watch out for timeshare resale scams that require you to pay them money first.
2. Student Loan Forgiveness Scam
With the topic of student loan forgiveness hitting headlines this summer, scammers are taking the opportunity to prey on potential victims. If someone calls you claiming to be a student loan officer, don’t engage in the conversation – and definitely don’t share any sensitive information, including your Social Security Number, driver’s license number or bank account details. Instead, hang up and call your loan servicer directly, using the phone number from your billing statement, to learn if there are any legitimate loan forgiveness options available.
3. Phony Job Scam
From teenagers to teachers, many people find themselves searching for additional employment over the summer months. Look out for phony job scams, in which a ‘recruiter’ asks you to pay them money or hand over sensitive financial information before they’ll connect you with a too-good-to-miss employment opportunity. Even if you’re replying to what looks like a legitimate ad on a reputable job site, it could be a scam. If an opportunity looks too good to be true (i.e. letting you set your own hours, work from home and make thousands of dollars per month), it probably is!
4. Amazon Imposter Scam
If you’re kicking off the summer months with a new bathing suit, sports gear or kiddie pool, you might head to Amazon to make your purchase – and scammers know this. Amazon is one of the most commonly impersonated businesses, which means that if you receive an email or phone communication claiming to be the online retailer, it’s a smart idea to think twice before responding. Don’t click on any links that pop up in your inbox, as they may contain malware. Instead, log in to your official Amazon account and contact customer service from there.
5. AirBnB Scam
Planning a trip out of town? AirBnB can be a great resource for upping your accommodation options, but there are a few scams to watch out for. Firstly, avoid communicating with potential hosts on external channels, and don’t make any payments unless they are via the official booking site. It’s also a good idea to lean more about bait-and-switch scams, which have popped up in the past few years. In a bait-and-switch scam, the property owner changes the booking at the last minute, leaving travelers with subpar accommodation or even stranded. Always opt for properties with plenty of positive reviews, or choose a traditional hotel if you’re uncertain.
6. Ticketed Event Scam
Summer is the season for concerts, festivals and all kinds of outdoor events – which means more opportunities for fraudsters to engage in ticket scams. It’s best practice to only purchase your event tickets from a reputable seller or the event venue, because scalping sites may enforce hidden fees or, in the worst case scenario, take your money without delivering your tickets. Interacting with individual scalpers is also risky. As always, don’t give out your credit card information or make any kind of payment to an individual via a non-official ticket sales channel.