The Age of Covid has sure changed things. For one it has caused most of us to spend more time at home. Then there were the Stay Home Orders too. I wrote about all this in the beginning of Covid and predicted more Home Scams? It has never been easier for the Bad Guys to reach their “targets” at home and scam them. I was right!
There are so many ways a bad guy can scam a good guy. Sometimes the scammer moves into a rented home and complains that nothing works and ultimately refuses to pay any rent.
The scammer then extorts money from the homeowner for the poorly maintained home. The Scammer asks for $25,000-$50,000 to vacate, in lieu of the owner hiring a lawyer and filing an Unlawful Detainer lawsuit. This is what we call “money for keys”!
Other Scammers offer to just rent the home for 1 month. They often say they want it just for August, when it is hot and no one wants a home in the CV then. Then after a month they will not leave.
The homeowner may get a call offering a discount for a home DISH network. However, one must pay up-front for 6 months. The homeowner is told to go to the store to buy a “green dot moneypak card”. The money will be gone as soon as you read the card numbers to the con artist.
Another scam involves a driver coming to your home and suggesting a high price to buy your home. Sometimes they suggest needless repairs for the home …or a deal on a new deck or installing an alarm system. It may mean they ask you for money to pay up front for those services?
As we age we do not always want to keep our Timeshare Homes, especially in the CV. In the past Timeshares were dangerous to purchase because of FRAUD risks. Today it is also dangerous when you SELL.
The scam starts when you get a call at home, from a company that claims to have a buyer, for your timeshare property. The caller even gives you the name and number of the prospective buyer, who confirms interest in the sale.
Sometimes someone contacts you offering to sell your timeshare and they try to get you to pay up front fees. A company, alleging to buy lots of timeshares, but only after the owner pays $500–$2000 via credit card for registration and other fees.
With respect to rental properties, be wary of listings on Craigslist for “rentals by owner”, or vacation rentals, as there have been many such scams. A red flag should be raised when no phone number or email address is listed.
In addition, prospective renters may be asked to send money for a home rental during a major city event, such as Coachella or Stage Coach. It is highly possible that the home may not even exist, may already be rented to someone else, or may not even be for rent. Do your due diligence as I have seen it for Coachella and the Tennis Tournament events!
When looking for a rental or looking to rent your home, look carefully at the spelling and language in the advertisement as they are often prepared by people from outside of the USA. You may want to check Google Maps to be sure the address exists. Also, be wary if the renter asks for money up front or asks for $40 to run a background check.
In another scam, the caller claims to be from a home utility, or a service provider-type company. The victim is told their bill is overdue, or a meter needs to be replaced at the victim’s expense. The caller demands immediate payment for the overdue bill, or installation of a new meter. If payment is not received, the victim’s service will be shut off. The caller demands credit card information or a Green Dot card as previously described.
Remember, the bottom line is that everything is not always as it seems, “all that glitters is not gold”. So be careful and check before giving out any private information. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
We must all remain diligent and stay a step ahead, with the latest info and practical tips from the nation’s consumer protection agency. We should all browse the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) scam alerts by topic or by most recent scams to keep up to date on current scams.
Report FRAUD and potential ID thefts by contacting:
Fraud alert hotline toll free 855 303 9470 or visit website www.aging.senate.gov/fraud-hotline
Charitable Donation Cons/ Telemarketing/Mail/Internet Fraud: State Attorney General’s Office 916-445- 2021.
IRS at 800-829-1040 or forward emails to phishing@IRS.gov.
Federal Trade Commission ID Theft Hotline 877 IDTheft/ www.consumer.gov/idtheft
Equifax: 800 525 6285/ www.equifax.com
Experian: 888 397 3742/ www.experian.com
Transunion: 800 680 7289/ www.transunion.com
Keep these numbers/information in a safe place… just in case!
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