Though con artists work year-round, springtime has proven to be prime season for scams. Arm yourself with these facts and resources, and protect your family from these common seasonal scams.
Home repair hoaxes
Here in the Bay State, several cases involving inflated prices for roof repair have highlighted the dangers facing unsuspecting older homeowners. Scammers go door-to-door, offering low rates for roof repair, asphalt paving, and other home improvements. The low cost is usually too good to be true, as they either demand upfront payment and disappear – or raise the cost after they’ve started the work.
What should you do? If you need work done, get recommendations from friends, neighbors or your local building inspector. Check the Better Business Bureau and your local courthouse to see if any lawsuits were filed against a contractor you’re considering.
Tax Day tricks
After April 19, there’s an increase in bogus e-mails supposedly from the IRS trying to gain personal information – and often containing links that infect your computer with a dangerous virus.
What should you do? Don’t open, and delete. Wait for your refund to arrive the official way via the U.S. Postal Service or direct deposit.
The warmer weather inspires many con artists to hit neighborhoods with bogus magazine subscription offers, often claiming the deal is for a charitable organization. The cost is usually triple the price of a regular subscription, and you never receive the magazines.
What should you do? Unless you recognize the solicitor, don’t open the door, and check in with your local police department to report suspicious behavior.
Free flight fraud
Spring break also heralds the arrival of vacation scams, phone calls or postcards promising free or hugely discounted vacation packages. The catch? You need to provide your credit card number first to pay a deposit or service fee. In some schemes, you are forced to pay tacked on charges, or are required to book a second guest at an inflated price.
What should you do? You know the drill - if it sounds too good to be true…
Free means free, so don’t send deposits or pay fees. And if you’re told to call for more details, and the number begins with an unrecognizable area code, it’s likely a phone scam involving Caribbean countries and long-distance charges.
Resources for Massachusetts Residents
Attorney General of Massachusetts
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has two locations in the Bay State, serving Central and Western Mass , and the eastern part of the Commonwealth.