this summerSummertime means warm weather and lots of fun. Unfortunately, the weather and your grill may not be the only things heating up this summer. That’s because the high volume of traveling and commerce makes the summer a season that scammers can’t afford to take off. Not only do the summer months bring an increase in fraud, but they also allow for specific types of scams to thrive. As such, it’s important to be able to recognize them right off the bat, which is why we’ve detailed three of the most dangerous scams you might encounter this summer.

Summer job scams

A summer job is one of the most productive ways that teens and college students can work toward their financial goals. Scammers, unfortunately, know this and often advertise fake job offers through legitimate venues, like online job boards, radio and newspaper ads, etc. This means the simple act of hunting for a job during the summer will likely put you in scammers’ sights. Luckily there are a handful of tips that might aid you in avoiding these scams:

1. “Too good to be true” is a repeated rule of thumb for good reason. If you’re looking at a job offer that provides a lot of pay for little experience, tread cautiously as legitimate employers in most industries don’t usually post such offers. While this alone isn’t indicative of a job scam, it should at the very least be a warning sign that the post may be a scam.

2. Don’t pay money or provide excessive amounts of personal information when applying. If overly generous compensation sets off red flags, then job applications that require you to submit upfront payment or anything other than your resume and email should set off every alarm. There’s absolutely no reason, ever, to pay to work. You should also avoid giving any bank account information, except for the purposes of direct deposit after you’ve been hired. Additionally, be sure to do your research and ensure that an employer is legitimate before filling out an application and providing a ton of sensitive information about yourself. You can consider leaving your social security number out, even if the application requests it, as the average employer likely isn’t going to need it until after you’ve been hired.

3. Watch for unprofessional behaviors. One last sign you should watch for is unprofessional behavior. This can range from anything like typos in the job description to grammatically flawed emails. Something to watch for is whether or not any recruiter or contact from the employer’s office has a professional email address. A company using Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo email addresses is somewhat strange in this day in age, as most companies brand their email with their own domain name (something which can be done pretty cheaply). While these gaffes aren’t direct signs of a scam, they should put you on some degree of alert.

Vacation rental/summer sublet scams

It always feels good to score a deal on travel fares and lodging, but as you may know, not every bargain is legitimate. When it comes to summer rentals, cheaper isn’t necessarily better. Here are the signs that something is likely amiss:

1. You have to pay upfront fees (without visiting the location or signing any paperwork). A common theme among scammers is that they will often attempt to force you to part with your money or valuables before rendering the service you requested. When it comes to rentals, remember that no legitimate business or property owner will force you to pay to see a property or demand that you make a reservation before signing any paperwork. Although this isn’t easy if you’re traveling to a new place, you can always ask to see the location you’ll be staying at or at the very least request some references from people who stayed there before. If the owner seems cagey or avoidant, then you may want to consider renting a different location because the renter may be a scammer.

2. The property is listed elsewhere with different information. A property with multiple listings can sometimes just be the result of an overeager property manager, but other times, it could be the telltale sign of a scam — this is especially true if the information varies from listing to listing. Whenever you see a photo in a property listing, you should conduct a reverse Google image search, as we detail in this post, to see where the photo originates. If an image was wholesale copy and pasted from another listing, it’s best to steer clear of the posting.

3. The contact is using a medium that helps obscure their identity. While places like Craigslist are a boon for finding things cheap and fast, sometimes they can be a headache to deal with. This is especially true when you consider that these sites give you few options to verify the authenticity of users creating posts, which means it can be challenging to verify the legitimacy of a poster. Fortunately, there are other services like Airbnb or travel sites that allow you to see legitimate hotel and property listings without the uncertainty tethered to offers on sites like Craigslist. While not all posts on Craigslist are scams — and there have been instances of Airbnb scams — you will want to be sure you do your due-diligence before commit to anything because you can never be sure. Or, just opt to use a site that does the verification legwork for you.

Moving scams

Most Americans move between May and September, so summer is the prime time for moving scams. Because moving is a multifaceted process, scams can occur during any phase of a move. Below we talk about the steps you should take throughout different parts of your move to keep you and your family safe:

Before the move
  • Use legitimate sources to search for movers. While you may be tempted to hire any discounted movers you find on social media sites or community sites, like Craigslist, there may be some risks that can cost you in the long run. For example, one of the most common scams involve “movers” holding your possessions for ransom, at least until you agree to pay a higher fee. In some cases, though, scammers can take this to its logical conclusion by simply stealing your possessions once everything’s packed away. This is why it’s very important to vet movers and be sure you’re hiring a trustworthy company. Two websites that are invaluable for finding legitimate movers are moving.org and Protect Your Move. Moving.org is the website run by the moving industry’s trade group, and Protect Your Move is a federal watchdog that verifies the licenses and complaints of interstate moving companies.
  • Change your mailing address. You should always make sure that you update your address with the post office, as lost mail isn’t just an annoyance. It can provide scammers with the keys they need to commit identity theft against you. A month ahead of your move, you can set up a mail forwarding or change of address with the U.S. Postal Service.
When moving
  • Reduce your social media presence. Bragging about your new place on social media or sharing pics of any of your home is ill advised, as it can be an open invitation to your social media friends (or strangers, if your account has poor privacy settings) to target you for scams, or even burglarize your home. As such, you should keep the fact that you’re moving close to the vest, and only mention it to contacts offline.
  • Keep an eye on documents and valuables. You should, if possible, already have a storage place for valuables and personal documentation ready to go in the instance a disaster strikes; however, if you don’t, it’s not too late to invest in a solution. Ideally, you’d want to gather all of these things together and pack them in a safe or locked drawer, or temporarily store them in a bank safe deposit box until the move is complete.
After the move
  • Monitor your accounts and identity. Major life events like marriage, attending school or moving can create a paper trail that makes it easier for you to become the target of identity theft. As such, you should review your credit reports for at least six months following the move to make sure your move didn’t reveal your personal information. If you want to take extra precautions, you can invest in an identity theft protection service for some time after moving to ensure that your information wasn’t compromised in any way during your move.

For more tips on staying safe this summer or any other time of the year, continue reading our scams blog.