Baltimore, MD - Summer is here and so are con artists.
The Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland said awareness and knowledge can help save consumers money and frustration when preparing against seasonal scams.
Summer may be the time to take it easy, but don't let your guard down.
"It's the time scammers want to take advantage when people are looking to get out and spend money," said Angie Barnett, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland.
Scams often start with something as simple as a search for cheap airfare. Consumers enter all their information on what turns out to be a fake site.
"They're actually booking a ticket in your name on your credit card, turning around and canceling it. They're pocketing the money," Barnett said.
The BBB sees a similar tactic used with fake festivals in which consumers buy tickets to an event only to find the festival either never existed or fell far short of organizers' promises.
Barnett said research is really important, and she offers the following tips.
- Pay with a credit card so charges can be disputed if the business doesn't come through
- Look for secure websites
- Avoid tickets sold on Craigslist
The same advice is applicable when it comes to vacation rentals that might look great online. Don't put any money down before checking it out.
"I want to know and I'm going to ask, 'Who owns this unit?' I might put in that individual owner's name and I can check property records. That's absolutely free," Barnett said.
Approximately one in five Americans have been scammed or nearly scammed when booking a vacation online.
For those staying at home, the BBB said consumers need be cautious because they see an increase in door-to-door scams time of year that can involve anything from people offering home improvement repairs to bogus alarm companies.
Scammers might misrepresent themselves and sign consumers up for something far more expensive.