There’s a sucker born every minute, as the old expression goes. Scam artists and rip-off masters bank on it. As for me, I am determined not to make some scammer’s day. Here’s how I do it.
I don’t answer my phone anymore unless I recognize the name and number on the caller ID. Scammers have managed to get around the National Do Not Call Registry by calling potential victims with phony phone numbers, using fake names. Often, the numbers will be from your own area code, making you believe that it might be someone you know. Some scammers go so far as to publish your own phone number on the caller I.D. display, hoping that you’ll recognize the number as your own and, before thinking, answer it. Of course, on the other end will be either a robo-call pitching a useless product or a heavily accented person who, while claiming to be a Microsoft technician, offers to fix your “seriously infected” computer for a steep price.
Another solution, besides not answering your phone, is to use one of the new FREE call-screening services available for land and mobile phones. A few that are getting good consumer reviews are Nomorobo, PrivacyStar and Truecaller. These services will either identify a caller as a spammer or simply block all known spam numbers. Curious about a number left on your caller ID? You can do a reverse phone number lookup at White Pages that will tell you if spam activity is associated with that number.
I don’t buy printer ink from my printer’s manufacturer anymore. A recent article in Consumer Reports found printer ink ranging in price from $13 per ounce to $75 per ounce. That’s more per ounce than the price of Chanel No. 5 perfume, they said. I used to dutifully buy the recommended ink cartridges, regularly shelling out more than half the price of the color printer for a set of ink cartridges.
Then I discovered Abacus Private and Clickinks. I have ordered from both and can recommend each for their low prices and speedy service. As an example, I got a full set of five cartridges from Abacus Private for $7.25, with FREE shipping. The price from a popular office retail store for the same ink sold under the printer manufacturer’s brand was $69.08. I regularly save more than $60 each time I purchase ink and the printer performs as well as ever.
I don’t accept hotel services when I’m traveling until I’ve read the fine print. According to a new study by New York University’s School of Professional Studies, hotels will rake in $2.25 billion this year on add-on services alone. That’s a lot of mini-bar sodas. But experts say the fees come from more devious means than those tempting but high-priced snacks. For example, you may plug in your laptop and learn later you’ve incurred a hefty Internet charge. You may grab a towel at the pool and find the use of it as a charge on your final bill. I’ll include one experience from my own travels: You may fall for the reasonable fee to have the hotel ship a bottle of wine (so you don’t have to pay $25 to check a bag on the airline), only to learn later that the hotel charged an extra $10 just to carry the bottle across the street to the shipping company. Grrr. I’m still mad. Read the fine print and then ask questions.
What are some ways you’ve found to avoid rip-offs?