How to Avoid
the 5 Scams
of Summer

There's more to beat than just the heat in summer. You may just have to beat scammers in their attempts to take your money (and possibly your identity) while you're traveling, shopping, or even looking for a loan. Here are five scams we expect to see more of this summer.

If you're going to the Olympics... best of luck getting tickets. Most events sold out last year, and resellers are charging a hefty premium. If you're thinking about purchasing a ticket online, make sure the seller has an address you can verify, a working phone number, and the ability to process credit cards. If they don't list a phone number or if they insist that you wire the money before they send the ticket, walk away from the deal.

If you're using a gift card to buy a ticket on Southwest... don't buy that gift card at a steep discount on Craigslist. Southwest Airlines is one of the few airlines to allow ticket purchases with gift cards. That can make for a cool present, but it also makes scams very easy to pull off. A scammer can use a stolen credit card to purchase a gift certificate from—complete with a PIN to prove it's "legitimate"—and then resell the gift certificate to somebody else before the scam is discovered. Often, people don't discover they've been duped until they go to the airport and find out their ticket has been cancelled because it was purchased with a stolen card.

If you're refinancing your mortgage... or if you're just looking to consolidate debt, you maybe look online for a new loan servicer. If that servicer says you're pre-approved for a loan but that you have to put down a deposit, insurance fee, or some other fee in order to qualify due to your low credit score, be very suspicious. A lot of people with less-than-sterling credit histories end up scammed out of hundreds and even thousands of dollars because they put money down on what turned out to be a fraudulent loan.

If you're logging onto your hotel's Wi-Fi network while traveling... a new malware scam appears to target travelers by presenting a pop-up to trigger a routine update to a common software product. The user, who's in an unfamiliar setting and whose only expectation is to see a series of pop-ups before logging into the hotel's network, approves the update so that he or she can proceed. Instead of a software update, they download malware.

If you're hired as a "mystery shopper" to test out a retailer's return policy... you may be the victim of a new scam involving iPad "mules." In this scam, the unsuspecting "mystery shopper" believes he or she is returning an iPad to a retailer and evaluating their customer service experience. In fact, he or she is returning an empty box to the retailer and giving several hundred dollars in returned money to a scam artist.

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