In many ways, Memorial Day weekend signals the start of summer. The days are getting hotter, the end of the school year is right around the corner and the calendar starts filling up with outdoor activities and vacation plans. Unfortunately, as the temperature increases, the Better Business Bureau also starts to see an uptick in the number of summer scams. If you know what to look for, you can make sure no one spoils your fun.
Don’t let a scam ruin your vacation.
There are several common travel scams that we often see at BBB, but all of them have one purpose: to get your money without giving you anything in return. If you’re booking your trip online, do so through reputable sites and pay with a credit card if you can, as you’ll have a better chance of disputing any false charges. Look the rental company up on BBB.org and read their customer reviews before handing over payment. Red flags: a suspiciously low price, a landlord who only communicates via email, or payment in the form of wire transfer or a pre-paid debit card.
Watch out for hidden fees when renting a car.
If you’re renting a car this summer, do your homework before you sign anything. You obviously want to get the best deal but you may not be aware of all of the possible fees, which can sometimes double or triple your initial quote. It’s important to shop around, make sure you understand the contract and insurance, and ask about all of the potential fees. Red flags: lack of specifics in the contract, full upfront payment, or deals that sound too good to be true.
BBB Serving Eastern Oklahoma recently reported on over 800 complaints filed against Payless Car Rental, which indicated a pattern of complaints related to sales practices, billing and collection, and contracts. That complete release can be found here.
If you’re moving, protect your belongings.
While some might be relaxing at the beach this summer, many are moving. Unlicensed movers are ready and waiting to offer you a “good deal” that actually isn’t very good at all in the end. One common tactic is to offer an estimate over the phone and then increase the price at the last minute, after everything has been packed and loaded. The key here is to do your research on the company and have a thorough and complete contract in place. Red flags: anything other than an in-person estimate, cash-only payment or large upfront deposits, or a poor BBB rating.
You can find more helpful resources at www.bbb.org/charlotte/moving-resource-center.
Don’t fall for high pressure door-to-door sales tactics.
Door-to-door sales activity seems to increase in the warmer months, possibly because more people are home during the day. Many legitimate companies use this tactic but some individuals may try to deceive you into thinking they represent a business you actually know about. Before you hand over your personal information, get everything in writing and verify the details. If a home security salesman is standing on your porch, take the time to look into the company he represents and make sure that he is who he says he is. Red flags: time-sensitive offers or aggressive sales tactics, lowball pricing, or a company you’ve never heard of.