Q&A with Kitt Letcher
Summer means time for scams,
Better Business Bureau chief says
Q: What kinds of scams pop up most often during summer?
A: Fake travel agents and websites offering too-good-to-be true deals, fake timeshare rentals or bogus name-brand vacations are common. Many Oklahomans also make home repairs during the summer, so be aware of fraudulent contractors. Concerts and 5k charity runs take place in warmer months, so be aware of fake tickets and verify any charity before making a donation. Finally, many high school and college students will be looking for summer jobs, and employment scams are one of the biggest the BBB sees during this time. With summer or part-time positions, make sure you don’t pay anything upfront for training, uniforms, background checks, etc.
Q: How can consumers easily verify a company’s authenticity?
A: Consumers can always check with BBB by calling or visiting our website for more information. In addition, businesses have to register with the secretary of state, so that’s one way to test their legitimacy. When supporting a charity, make sure the organization has a 501(c)(3) designation, signifying the charity isn’t organized or operated for the benefit of private interests. Consumers also can look at an organization’s 990 form, which will detail how much it is investing in its mission versus fundraising and administrative costs.
Q: What are some signs consumers might be getting scammed?
A: If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Never open any emailed attachments or click on any emailed links from unknown senders. If you receive a phone call with an offer, ask for the caller’s name and number, and look them up. If approached by a door-to-door salesman, ask for identification. Dig deeper by conducting a search of the company’s phone number, address or website to see if consumers have reported any issues. Always pay with a credit card, and don’t sign any agreements without reading them thoroughly and making sure all the blanks are filled in. Don’t pay too much upfront before work is completed by a contractor. Be wary if a seller is pressuring you to act quickly. Scammers will try to get you to act without thinking.
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER