Seven Summer Scams

by Chris Bjorklund


If you’re adopting a pet this summer, stay alert for online scams by fraudulent sellers. Photo: American Ratings Corporation, 2017

Along with rising temperatures this summer, we’re going to see a rise in seasonal scams. I’ve been getting warnings from consumer protection agencies about what to watch out for, and I want to pass them on to you. You may have heard of some of these rip-offs before, but be aware that new variations always pop up and can catch even the savviest consumers off guard.

1. Magazine scams
This scam ramps up in the summer with young people going door-to-door selling magazine subscriptions. They claim they’re working their way through college and need to make a certain number of sales to earn points for scholarships. That’s not true. Most of the time, the orders are never placed with the publishers, and even if your order is fulfilled, you’ll pay too much for the subscription.

2. Moving day scams
This scam always starts the same way: with an exceptionally low estimate for your move. When you arrive at your new residence, the final bill skyrockets and the mover holds your possessions hostage until you pay them. If you check out a mover with regulatory authorities first, you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches.

3. Fake vacation rental scams
If you’re searching for a vacation rental, you might come in contact with con artists who create fake rentals with fake addresses using pictures they’ve grabbed from online sources. Sometimes the fake owner will ask you to wire a deposit or even the full amount in advance, and you won’t know the property doesn’t exist until you arrive at your destination. Using your credit card for payment will give you some protection. Another good idea is to ask the owner to show you the property on FaceTime or Skype if you can’t get anyone to inspect it in person ahead of time.

4. Pet scams
Many people adopt pets this time of year so their new family members can get lots of attention and training before school starts again. That’s why complaints about fraudulent puppy sales surge during the summer. The typical adoption scam starts with online ads of cute puppies. However, the non-local puppy sellers don’t have any real animals for sale. Instead, they entice you with adorable pictures, and once they have your deposit via an untraceable wire transfer, they come up with extras such as vet bills, shipping fees and pet insurance. By the time you catch on, your money is gone. You’ll never run into this problem if you adopt from a local animal shelter.

5. Home improvement scams
Work crews go around the neighborhood claiming they’re doing a roofing, paving or landscaping job on a nearby street. They tell homeowners they can offer a good price because they have extra materials. Usually the work is shoddy and overpriced, and if you try to track down these contractors later, you’ll discover they’re unlicensed and you have no recourse.

6. Summer job scams
Lots of summer jobs are advertised online, and some employers who post them require a background check. However, if you’re asked for your Social Security number through the jobsite, consider it a red flag—this may lead to identity theft. You should never give up sensitive personal information before having an in-person interview with an employer. Also, don’t pay any advance fees for supplies or uniforms.

7. Front desk scams
If you’re staying in any hotels or motels this summer, you could be the target of a front desk scam. After you leave your credit card upon check-in and start unpacking in your room, someone will call from the “front desk” to say there’s a problem with your card. By confirming the number, you’re unknowingly giving the scammer your credit card information. The scammers simply call random rooms and hope you’re too tired to go back down to the lobby to clear up the problem. This is another way you may become a victim of identity theft and credit card fraud.

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