Editorial: Don’t get scammed

Sep. 09, 2013 @ 11:15 PM

Every week it seems there’s another story in the news about someone being scammed.

Either through an unscrupulous business deal, pyramid scheme, home improvement project or phishing email, scammers are everywhere.

But, with the current resources available through the Internet and elsewhere, consumers are better-armed than ever in the fight against these hucksters.

Google reviews, the Better Business Bureau and websites like Angie’s List (angieslist.com, subscription required) are good places to start when looking to complete home improvements or other ventures. A simple search of Google with keywords from an email or too-good-to-be-true advertisement can often turn up consumer complaints to warn you off.

In real-world, offline situations, avoiding scams can be just as simple.

Never be pressured into allowing work on your home from a crew that just happened to be traveling through your neighborhood and thought you could use roofing, paving, etc. 

Examples of this con job are seen repeatedly on regional newscasts — a person scammed into extending their driveway, installing new gutters or replacing a storm-damaged roof only to have shoddy, non-complete work and an empty bank account.

Real pros, for the most part, don’t do business door-to-door.

Perhaps the best advice for those who don’t want to get short-changed, hoodwinked or otherwise scammed is this: If a deal sounds too good to be true, it likely is.

African kings aren’t emailing you in hopes you’ll take 10 percent of their huge fortunes just to allow them to transfer it to your bank account; that’s a scam.

You’re very unlikely to make $50 an hour on a work-from-home job that you were offered via an unsolicited email; yet again, another scam.

The FBI offers a vast listing of tips to avoid being suckered in on these shakedowns, but the best of their tips are these: 

  • Know who you are dealing with. If you have not heard of a person or company that you intend to do business with, learn more about them. Depending on the amount of money that you plan on spending, you may want to visit the business location, check with the Better Business Bureau, or consult with your bank, an attorney, or the police.
  • Make sure you fully understand any business agreement that you enter into. If the terms are complex, have them reviewed by a competent attorney.
  • Always take your time making a decision. Legitimate companies won’t pressure you to make a snap decision.

For more of the FBI’s tips, visit www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud.