1. Burglary while you’re at the theater. It’s the latest trend in home break-ins: Crooks wait in movie theater parking lots. Once people go inside to watch a flick, these crooks break into cars — specifically to glean addresses from vehicle registrations. With at least a two-hour window of opportunity, these criminals then burglarize the victims’ homes.
Your defense: Keep your vehicle registration, as well as your GPS and other valuables, in a locked glove compartment — or carry them with you.
2. Library card fraud. You know that the local library can be a great place to enjoy DVD movies (as well as CDs and books) on the cheap. But did you know you should guard your library card as you do your credit cards? Here’s why: With your lost or stolen library card, crooks can “borrow” those items en masse for their own entertainment or a quick sale on an online auction or street corner — leaving you responsible with late fees or replacement costs. One New York law student discovered she was victimized when she received collection notices demanding $200 for 12 unreturned DVDs. Her library card was pulled from the garbage and then used to make unauthorized checkouts. The student then had a hassle-filled venture to restore her credit history. One librarian reported that she’s seen some patrons charged up to $2,000 for “overdue” materials.
Your defense: If your library card goes missing, immediately contact the library to put a hold on your card, just as you would with other “credit” accounts. Most libraries hold you financially responsible for unreturned items checked out on your card.
Movie-watching malware. Summer is prime time for incoming emails that promise a sneak peek or full-length preview of new or upcoming releases. But it’s hoaxers, not Hollywood, behind these unsolicited offers. Click on the link and you could unleash computer viruses, including keystroke loggers that can capture your online banking account information or transform your PC or Mac into a spam-sending botnet.
Casting agent cons. Do you dream about making it on to the silver screen? It won’t happen with a casting agency or talent scout who requests upfront fees for auditions or representations. Such “pay to play” tactics are done by scammers who advertise “Looking for Actors” in newspaper classifieds, their own bogus websites or in approaching you on the street. Legitimate agencies never charge upfront. They’re paid a commission after the gig is secured, usually by studios for the most available work for nonprofessional actors, which is as an “extra” in locally shot productions or scenes.
Your defense: Never pay upfront. False promises aside, realize it’s unlikely you’ll be the next George Clooney. To find work (again, usually for crowd scenes), learn about local filming opportunities — and legit casting agencies — through newspapers articles, not classifieds. Or, contact casting agents in your Yellow Pages (then vet them with an online search) or your city’s liaison agency to the film industry, which sometimes is a government office. Don’t expect a speaking part, but non-union “extras” can earn up to $100 a day, free meals and the thrill and bragging rights of being in a movie.
Also of interest: Check out these summer blockbusters.