For the majority of Americans who plan to take a vacation, attend a concert, or work on their home or garden this summer, this season comes with its own unique consumer challenges. Here are the top five scams and frauds to be alert for this time of year:
1. Don’t buy gas additives that claim to make fuel last longer. Even though gas prices go up in the summer, the Environmental Protection Agency has not found any product that significantly improves gas mileage, and some could damage a car’s engine or increase exhaust emissions.
2. Unlicensed home repair or landscaping contractors may come to your door to offer services. Always research contractors, pay for services upon completion—not ahead of time— and consider using a signed contract outlining the work to be done and the exact price.
3. Interested in a summer concert or festival? If you buy tickets from a major vendor, remember surcharges and additional fees may be tacked onto the listed price. Some venues require the same credit card used to purchase tickets be presented when the tickets are picked up, so if you’re buying tickets for someone as a gift, they may have difficulty getting them at will-call.
4. When renting a beach or lake house for vacation, make sure the property actually exists. Do your homework before paying— check out the owner or rental company, consult maps and read the lease carefully. Pay with an online payment service or a credit card so you can dispute the charges if something goes wrong.
5. When flying, make sure you’re aware of the airline’s baggage charges and their policy when it comes to bumping passengers. A lot of airlines “bump” depending on how late you checked in, so check in ASAP!