When faced with the task of finding a new contractor, it is common to fear being taken advantage of by someone you don’t know. People new to an area are especially vulnerable because they may not have contacts yet to ask for personal recommendations. If you have no one to turn to for advice, do not fall victim to an offer that seems too good to be true. Keep reading to learn about bait-and-switch tactics as well as how to avoid a scam. 

What Is a Bait and Switch?

What Is a Bait and Switch

A bait and switch occurs when you are lured into a transaction by a seemingly great deal—the “bait”—but once you are prepared to pay, the offer turns out to be unavailable or not the same as what was advertised—the “switch.” Because you may be in a time crunch and have already put in the effort to find the product or service, you are more vulnerable to agree to the switch even though it is more expensive or not quite what you were originally looking for.

The Warning Signs

Learning how to recognize a scam is essential to your personal and financial safety. Not only should you want to avoid dealing with dishonest vendors, but you also do not want to compromise your finances. Here are a few signs you may be dealing with unsavory characters:

  • They ask you for payment details, such as your credit card number, before they have clarified the details of the work or provided any services.

  • Their advertisement offers a lot of free or extremely discounted services with no strings attached. Beware of asterisks and a lot of fine print; often, these will detail some kind of loophole the company can use to prevent you from taking action if you do end up getting scammed.

  • They show up in an unmarked vehicle and have no uniforms or identification.

  • They tell you the original product or service you asked for has been discontinued and then pressure you to buy a more expensive alternative.

  • They explain that the original deal is just one component of a larger product or service and that you have to purchase everything else as well in order to get what you need.

What to Do If You’ve Been Scammed

What to Do If You’ve Been Scammed

Report it. If you believe you’ve been the victim of a fraud, it is important to report it to your local authorities. Your complaint may succeed in shutting down the scam and preventing others from being conned in the future.

Contact your bank. If your payment has not yet been processed, you may be able to put a stop on it before the scammer gets it. Additionally, if you feel your credit card or bank account number has been compromised, you will want to have the bank issue you replacements.

Take legal action. If you suffered significant losses through a bait-and-switch scheme, taking legal action to recover your damages may be a solution. However, there are many loopholes scammers use to keep their actions legal, so it may be a difficult case to win. If you had no option to get out before being charged and there was no fine print or disclaimer up front, you may have a case.

Unfortunately, scams are quite common, and becoming the target of one can be both mentally and financially devastating. Before choosing new companies or making large purchases, be sure to do extensive research. At Best Pick Reports, we make it a priority to thoroughly investigate every company we recommend in order to help you avoid scams and unpleasant experiences. 

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Sources: Federal Trade Commission; Laws.com; Western Union; William & Mary Business Law Review.