July 11, 2014

Editorial: Watch out for summer scams

Summer’s pleasant weather is more conducive to the work of the door-to-door salesperson — and sometimes also to the door-to-door scam artist.

Many legitimate companies use door-to-door sales. But be wary of high-pressure tactics from people trying to peddle services and goods like driveway paving, air-conditioning repairs and security systems, the Better Business Bureau warns.

Get all promises in writing, including start and finish dates, the watchdog group advises. Never sign a contract that has an open-ended completion date or blank spaces.

Some communities have restrictions meant to protect residents. The City of Plattsburgh, for one, has rules to help officials know who is in town soliciting and for how long.

Contractors who want to pave driveways, for example, have to register with the City Building Inspector’s Office, to ensure they have insurance and workers compensation, says former City Clerk Keith Herkalo, still serving as a consultant.

People who take orders at residences for future delivery of goods need a permit in the City of Plattsburgh. A vendor’s permit is also needed by solicitors who are selling items that they will hand to you at the door.

The Better Business Bureau offers other tips:

Buying tickets. Before paying for concert tickets online, make sure the seller is reputable. Phony sellers will trick consumers into wiring money with no intention of sending real tickets.

Most concert venues now allow ticket holders to print tickets from personal computers, which gives scammers the opportunity to sell the same ticket over and over to unsuspecting consumers.

Be wary of sellers who only accept cash, want the money wired or transferred through a prepaid account or pressure you to act quickly.

Booking vacations. Fake travel agents and websites often tout too-good-to-be-true deals. Make sure the offer is legitimate by checking first.

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