Summer — and scammers — are in full swing. Extreme heat in many parts of the country and a pent-up national desire to travel are the kinds of opportunities scammers seek. Beat the heat and enjoy some travel if you can, but keep these scams in mind over the next several months.
Your Utility Bill Is Past Due: Pay Now or Get Cut Off
Heat waves make having reliable air conditioning and fans, and the electricity that powers them, essential. Scammers will impersonate utility providers by phone (though sometimes other ways — email, text, in person) and claim your account is past due and you must pay immediately, or your power will be shut off. TIP: If you get a call or message like this, disengage. You can call your utility provider using the phone number on your statement if you’re concerned there may be an issue.
Renting a Car for an Unbelievable Deal? Don’t Believe It
The pandemic led rental car companies to sell off lots of inventory, resulting in fewer cars and higher prices now that people are looking to travel. Scammers are spoofing well-known rental car websites and advertising fake customer service numbers. Their goal is to lure in travelers with great deals — and convince them the best way to pay is with a gift card. TIP: Seek out the real website or phone number for rental car companies (type in the web address versus doing a web search, which can turn up fake information). If you’re dealing with a company you’ve never heard of, search the name online, along with the word “scam” to see what comes up. Oh, and a legitimate business will never seek payment for goods or services with a gift card.
The Dream Vacation Home That Turns Into a Nightmare
Lots of travelers are seeking home rentals over hotel reservations for their getaways. Unfortunately, scammers are the ones getting away — with fake offers and large deposits. They steal rental listings straight from legitimate sites and post them online in the hopes of convincing travelers to rent through them instead of the real property owners. TIP: Be wary of renting off of social media sites or through companies you haven’t booked through before. Keep all of your interactions with property owners on the website of legitimate companies. A request to take your conversation off the site is a sign of a likely scam.
Do you think you have been targeted or have fallen victim to a scam? Contact the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360.
From the AARP Fraud Watch Network