If you want to avoid getting ripped off by crooks, you need to protect yourself! So here’s how to spot a few common scams, courtesy of Ladies Home Journal:

  • There’s the locksmith scam. Here’s an example: One woman mentioned in the article locked herself out of her car late at night. She called a 24-hour locksmith she found in the yellow pages, and was told someone would help her for $40. However, when the locksmith arrived, they said they’d have to break her car’s window to get the keys u__nless she paid an extra $60 so they could “pop” the door with a special tool. The woman agreed to the new fee, but once the locksmith had the door open, they said the bill was now $250! Unless she paid him, she couldn’t have her keys back. How can you avoid this type of scam? Here’s one way: If you’re locked out of your car, try calling the local AAA - even if you aren’t a member – to see if they can recommend someone honest.
  • There’s the moving scam. How does it work? Usually, the scammer will give you a low estimate for moving your stuff without looking at the items. Then, once they’ve got your possessions on their truck, they demand a fee as much as 10 times more than the original quote before they’ll deliver! What can you do? Know this: If a company gives you an estimate over the phone or demands cash or a large deposit before the move, that’s a huge red flag! You can also go to protectyourmove.gov to check whether the mover you’re considering is properly registered or has a history of complaints.
  • The fake sweepstakes. In this scam, a letter arrives with the news that you’ve won a huge sum of money – or you get an e-mail saying you’ve won a foreign lottery. There’s one catch: To claim the prize, you’ve got to send a check. Sometimes they say this is to pay the “taxes” on the money. Don’t fall for it! Lottery tickets can’t be sold across national borders and no one who wins a legitimate contest has to PAY to collect. If you have doubts about a lottery mailing you’ve received, contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.