ATLANTA-- Nothing turns a relaxing vacation into a stress-filled nightmare like getting scammed. Metro Atlanta's Better Business Bureau released a list of the summer's top five scams and how to avoid them.
1. Fake Travel Agents and Websites: Last summer, a fake travel agency scammed a group of Tennessee dance students out of more than $60,000. Parents wrote checks to the agency for shuttles, hotels, and tickets for Disney World. When the group arrived in Orlando, none of the reservations had been booked. The owners of the agency were indicted by a grand jury for theft. In the age of great internet deals, the line between a great steal and getting robbed is hard to distinguish.
The BBB suggests checking the agency or offer on their website. If it's not listed, Google the company's phone number, name, and "complaints" to see if other customers have reported problems. Also, these parents ran into trouble because they paid with checks. The money was gone, and their fight to get it back involved a long court battle with little chance at success. Pay with a credit card, so you can dispute the charges if the business doesn't come through.
2. Summer Moves: Summer is the peak time of the year for changing residences. In 2013, the BBB received more than 9,300 complaints about moving companies including damages or missing items, big price increases over original quotes, and goods being "held hostage" for extra payments. When you get a quote, make sure you get it in writing with specifics (including if the quote is binding and what would cause the cost to go up). Take the time to compare quotes from several businesses.
3. Summer Concert Ticket Scams: Before you buy tickets online, make sure the seller is legitimate. Phony sellers will trick consumers into sending cash with no intention of sending real tickets in return. Since venues allow ticket holders to print at home, scammers sell the same tickets over and over again. When the tickets are scanned at the gate, only the first ticket holder will get inside. The BBB says look out for these red flags: a sob story about why they can't use the tickets, someone who only accepts cash, anyone who wants money wired or transferred to a prepaid account, or pressures you to act quickly.
4. Door-to-door Tactics: High pressure door-to-door sales tactics are on the rise in summer months. People will come knocking offering magazine subscriptions, handyman work, alarm services, cleaning help, and yard work. The BBB suggests you refrain from doing business with people who use high pressure sales tactics, arrive in unmarked vehicles, do not have company letterhead or business cards, and require cash payment. Make sure to get all promises in writing, including start and finish dates. Never sign a contract that has an open-ended completion date.
5. Job Scams: Finding a summer job is a huge priority for high school and college students. The BBB warns the job hunt could turn into a huge waste of time and money. Be aware of employees who require fees for training and background checks, or who tout "no experience needed".
Have you run into any other summer scams? Send your tips to news@11Alive.com or click HERE.