Summer is all about weddings. But what is supposed to be one of the best days of your life can be far from that fantasy if you’re a victim of fraud.
Your big day can be a big opportunity. “Scammers take advantage of distraction, and few things in life are as exquisitely discombobulating as planning a wedding,” says Adam Levin, author of “Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers and Identity Thieves.” Also, the bride and groom may not be familiar with event details — contracts, rentals, hiring. “You have fertile ground for fraud.”
What can go wrong and how can you protect yourself?
- Get references. Take the example of a flower vendor that assures you they make breathtaking arrangements for a fraction of the cost of other places. “All you have to do is write them a check for the flowers and they’ll handle everything. But they don’t show up on the wedding day,” Levin says. Get references, and don’t pay in full up front.
- What you don’t know can hurt you. Samantha Frontera of Chicago got hit with $5,000 in extra, hidden fees. Among other things, “The contract for my wedding hall never included the gratuity and taxes, and we had to purchase a wedding album from our photographer for an extra $1,000, after we already agreed on a price.” Make sure everything is spelled out in writing. Ask: Will there be any additional fees or charges?
- Be careful online. Online giveaways could leave brides-to-be susceptible to online phishing scams. Warns Anil Gupta, a vice president at MarkMonitor, an online brand protection firm in San Francisco, “Posing as a legitimate vendor hosting an online contest, cybercriminals could gain access to personal information such as credit card info and bank account numbers.”