summer scamsScams happen year round, but there are certain ones you see more frequently at different points in the year. Summer is the time of the year where everyone wants to pack in as many fun outdoor activities as possible while the weather is nice and the days are long, but the world doesn’t stop moving even if you want it to — and neither do scammers and identity thieves. Learn how to spot and avoid some of the more common summer scams to keep yourself and your loved ones feeling relaxed this summer.

1. Door-to-Door Sales Pitches

People tend to be home more in the summer than the winter months, especially with kids out of school. This means you are more likely to answer when someone knocks on your door with something to sell. Scam artists know this and count on it.

How the scam works: This scam can work in a number of different ways, from someone trying to sell you a product, such as magazine subscriptions or overpriced kitchen gadgets, to people offering a service you don’t need in order to gain access to your home (or distract you at the front door while their accomplice sneaks into your home through the back door). You might write a check or hand over your credit card information to someone and never receive the items you thought you were purchasing (and potentially face identity theft as a result of giving out your financial information), or you might find yourself victimized by a home robbery.

Avoid it by: These types of scams often target the elderly, but anyone can fall victim so it’s good to be on your toes. Anytime someone you don’t know comes to the door, it’s a good idea to regard them with suspicion. Your best option is to not even open the door, but if you opt to, proceed with caution. It can feel rude to not welcome someone into your home, but keeping your information and your home safe rates higher than a stranger’s feelings. If the person is pushy about getting you to commit to making a purchase or let them into your home, it’s likely there’s something wrong about the visit. Don’t let them into your home, and shut the door in their face if you have to. As a last resort, you can also threaten to call the authorities. This will usually spook any scammer who’s hoping to fly under the radar.

Additionally, if you have elderly parents or relatives, it’s wise to talk with them about the importance of not opening their home to strangers — especially strangers trying to sell them something. Elderly people and children are generally more trusting, something scammers know and try to take advantage of.

2. Summer Jobs

Teens and college students often look for part-time jobs to make some extra cash during the summer months. Unfortunately, the current job market creates a lot of competition and breeds the perfect atmosphere for scammers to dupe job seekers more easily than ever before.

How the scam works: Scammers will post ads on job search engines or job boards advertising a dream position — high pay, great benefits, no experience needed. Those who respond will be asked to submit personal information, which is then taken and used for data collection purposes or identity theft. Even worse, some seemingly legitimate jobs will require fees for training or background checks that are intended to take your money or information. Of course, the advertised job either doesn’t exist or is not as promised.

Avoid it by: Don’t offer up any personal information beyond your name and contact information. Create an email address to use for job hunting separate from your personal email and never offer up your social security number or agree to a background check unless you are certain it’s 100% necessary for the position at hand. Students should consider using their school’s job search service rather than the web to look for summer work, and teens under 18 should be supervised by a parent or trusted adult while looking for a job. It’s also a good idea for job seekers to research any company they intend to apply at thoroughly using the BBB and Google, and pay attention to any mention of scams in relation to a company or job posting.

3. Vacation Rentals

Taking your family on a vacation is a chance to create lifelong memories and get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Hotels and popular hot spots can be expensive, but home sharing is on the rise thanks to websites like Airbnb which allow regular people to rent out their homes for others to use on vacation. Unfortunately, this type of thing attracts scammers.

How the scam works: According to this article from Forbes, vacation rental scams can come in several varieties. Some are more nefarious, such as those that take a deposit for a rental property that doesn’t exist and disappear — leaving vacationers stranded and out a chunk of change. Others will simply bait-and-switch by showing you a fabulous-looking property to lure you in but renting out something less desirable instead, at the cost you’d expect to pay for the nicer rental.

Avoid it by: Remember that age-old saying that if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. A dirt-cheap rental in a prime location, or something fancy for a low price is probably not legitimate. Ask as many questions as possible and do your research. Many owners are understandably reluctant to provide an address without a booking, but before you hand over any money see if you can get one and double check what it looks like on Google maps. Realize, though, that even an address can be faked. Using a website like Airbnb which vets rental owners to ensure they are legitimate is a good way to ensure you won’t get scammed. Also, never pay upfront in cash using Western Union or any other money transfer service; instead, pay with a credit card so if you do get scammed, the charges can be reversed.

If you have plans to travel this summer, follow these tips to keep your home safe while you’re away, and see what steps you can take to keep your identity safe while you travel. To learn more about avoiding scams and protecting your identity, follow our identity theft protection blog.