If It Sounds Too Good To Be True, It Probaby Is
"Congratulations, you've won a vacation! (from a company you've never heard of) We're giving you this vacation but you have to pay port fees, dock fees, and handling costs up front. Just give us your credit card number." These are all warning signs that you're about to be scammed. The Attorney General's office is warning Mainers to watch out for scams and don't fall victim.
I spoke earlier this week with Linda Conti of the Maine Attorney General's office. She says the first thing you should consider when someone tells you you've won a prize is whether or not you entered a contest.
If there are conditions on the prize, like paying fees up front, then it's a scam. You should never ever be required to pay for something you've won. If it's a large enough prize, you may have to pay taxes on it, but that's declared at the end of the year.
Never, ever give your personal banking information to anyone. And, as always, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Conti brought up a point that I was not aware of. Being put on the "Do Not Call Registry" does not prevent "Robocalls." Computers systematically dial numbers without checking any sort of registry. If you get one of these calls, hang up. Don't say anything, because that signals the computer that they've reached a real person. And when you hear that prompt that says "press 1 if you would like to be removed from this list," DON'T DO IT! This also tells the computer that they've reached a real person and the company will then add your number to more lists.
Timeshare resellers are another topic of concern. Conti says these people, who usually advertise on the internet, say that, for a fee, they'll sell the timeshare you no longer want. But what they'll really do is take your money and run. Then you're out the fee and you're still stuck with a timeshare you don't want. Instead, go to a reputable realtor that you know of in your own community. Reputable dealers will take a percentage of the money you get for the timeshare. They will never ask for money up front.
When in doubt, trust your instincts. And if you have questions about whether it's legitimate, call the Attorney General's office and they'll talk you through it. To hear more about vacation scams, tune in tomorrow morning to our station to hear Townsquare Media's Maine Concerns.