Three More Ways To Avoid Scams
Think twice before providing information that's not absolutely needed for your transaction.
Whether you're shopping online or off, don't provide more info than what's needed plain and simple. Many people know that their info is collected and sold but there are some cases where the person taking your information creates a copy for their own personal and illegal use. Unfortunately, there are some cases where crooked companies simply look the other way as long as that employee is meeting their job requirements otherwise.
There are some cashiers, waitresses, salespeople, valets (via access to documents in your vehicle) and waiters who will go on shopping sprees on the customers' dime. Be alert and don't let this happen to you. If it does happen, there will be little chance of getting your money back. If they damage your credit, repairing the damage could take months or even years.
Avoid all unsolicited offers and offers that you have absolutely no need or interest in, particularly if they are going to perform automatic billing. NEVER give them your consent or info in any way shape or form. A fairly large number of people find too late that they have no money left to pay their bills because everything and more was taken due to a trial or offer they accepted.
If you didn't call them and they called you, beware. If you made a call and reached a different company (or one who doesn't immediately identify their company by it's name) beware. If they send you or your child unsolicited text or email messages, beware. If their company name is not the EXACT same as a company that you have previous positive experience with, beware. This is critical as some companies intentionally use names that are similar to names of well known brands and companies to trick people into buying things from them. Many offers tied to trials such as shopping clubs, supplements, and magazines are simply overpriced and the methods they use to get you to agree often are nothing but a scam. Some of these same companies also use high pressure and even illegal collection tactics if you stop paying when you realize it was a scam. Also, it is not uncommon for customers to be pushed into a sale or not have all of the terms fully explained to them even when they specifically ask.
For instance, when you ask a question (even a simple yes or no type), they might lead your attention off on a tangent without actually answering your question. Don't be fooled, this is intentionally done to steer you away from saying no. Maybe you refuse anyway and they push nonstop to make you agree. When they say they don't need your credit card info, watch out. They've already got it! If they ask for it, that doesn't always mean that they don't have it, perhaps they want you to confirm that everything is correct and it's possible that by confirming this or other info, in their minds, you agreed to be charged.They are slippery little suckers, aren't they?
With some of the magazine crooks, you are darned if you do and darned if you don't. Most of the companies that contact customers to push magazines have gotten your name from other companies that don't treat the customer as a priority. This should be important to you because if these are the types of companies they associate with, you don't want to be their customer especially if your Caller ID is not showing that company's exact name and working phone number.
Check property records before renting or use an experienced and knowledgeable local agent to find a rental.
Home rental scams should send most renters scurrying to find an experienced and licensed professional to work with. However, there are some people who fall for fake rental ads online and in newspapers because the crooks continue to evolve with their trickery and potential renters refuse to do their due diligence. The advertisers/crooks often steal a photo and claim they've got a rental property available for rent. Most crooks use free ads but some run this scam to such a profit they actually pay fees to post their ads on certain sites, increasing the perceived credibility of the ad and possibly gaining access to larger numbers of potential victims.
Many will not want to meet you face to face and have a long list of excuses not to. Still, they'll want you to pay a deposit or 1st month's rent often without even seeing the property. Some will ask that you wire them money, (but not all). Paying upfront sight unseen is just one huge red flag to most people but the crooks still offer more tricks to separate renters from their cash. In some cases the prospective renters actually do view the property inside and out with the crook or a helper. Some crooks can mislead home owners and it's possible for the crook to be a house sitter, family friend, or increasingly, it may be a home that has been abandoned or foreclosed on that they access illegally.
With great risk, the locks on an unoccupied home will be changed just so they can access it at will and take a grand or two from an unsuspecting renter or several if they can. If you choose to rent from online ads from sites other than 100% legitimate real estate agencies, get the property owner's information and check local property records. Make sure their ID matches up when you meet in person.
If you're supposed to be renting from the owner, they or their licensed real estate agent must be present, no excuses. If the person you meet has a long story about why the true owner can't be present, walk away. Once you hand over your money, you'll probably not get it back. Also, you will be evicted by the true owners if you ever actually move in and will be back at square one with less or no money to rent your next place.
For those who don't have the time or inclination to perform due diligence, check the local rental listings through sites such as Remax.com or Realtor.com. Craigslist and other sites are fine for those who are alert and vigilant, but they should not be blamed when those who are not vigilant get burned.
© 2012 Express10
A House Rental Scam Warning
- If It Sounds Too Good To Be True
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don't fall victim to trials and offers that only offer you automatic monthly payments for worthless products and programs.
- When Risk Free Is Not Risk Free
The informed consumer is a happy consumer. Take a closer look at some risk free offers and trials and they may seem less appealing.