By Dale Gribow

I receive many requests to write an article providing the Downlow on HOME SCAMS. There is good chance if you got through 2016 you or a friend were exposed to a scam…and did not know it.

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 and asks for $25,000-$50,000 to vacate, in lieu of the owner hiring a lawyer and filing an Unlawful Detainer lawsuit.

Others 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 it 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 it. Sometimes they suggest needless repairs for the home …or a deal on a new deck or installing an alarm system.

As we age we do not always want to keep our timeshare homes especially in the CV. Timeshares used to be dangerous to purchase because of FRAUD risks. In 2017 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. 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!

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 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

Charitable Donation Cons/ Telemarketing/Mail/Internet Fraud: State Attorney General’s Office 916-445- 2021.

IRS at 800-829-1040 or forward emails to

Federal Trade Commission ID Theft Hotline 877 IDTheft/

Equifax: 800 525 6285/

Experian: 888 397 3742/

Transunion: 800 680 7289/

Keep the above numbers and information in a safe place just in case!

If you have any questions regarding this column or ideas for future columns please contact Dale Gribow 760-837-7500 or


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