3 Common Scams and How to Avoid Them

What are the most common scams? How can you avoid getting ripped off? Jeff Rossen of the NBC Today Show shares his top tips to avoid rip offs with Who Knew.

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin
2-minute read

This following is roughly excerpted from Rossen to the Rescue by Jeff Rossen. Subscribe to his new podcast or check out the book here!

The Locksmith

Challenge the locksmith or contractor (or whoever you think is ripping you off), by calmly saying things like, “Well I had another locksmith over here, and they told me something dif­ferent.” Or: “This happened to me once before, and the locksmith charged me half of what you’re saying.” Another: “That seems a little steep, I should get a second opinion.” Most of them will start negotiating with you. Either way, you’re subtly signaling that you’re not about to get ripped of.

There are a few things you can do to protect yourself. When you’re in this situation, first get the quote, and get it in writing. Then, before they start working, tell them, “I don’t have the cash on me, will you take a credit card?” This keeps things on the up and up. And there are actually a couple of simple things you can do to keep yourself out of this scenario entirely. Leave a spare key at work or at a friend’s house. Here’s another: Before you have an emergency, when you have some free time on your hands, go into town and look for a legitimate locksmith—at an actual store in an actual building with actual employees. Get their card, program the number in your phone as “Locksmith,” so if you’re in a jam you won’t get hustled.

The Car Mechanic

There are three things you can do to protect yourself:

  1. Actually read the owner’s manual—this can help demystify some of the mechanic’s mumbo jumbo, giving you a clearer sense of what the car actually needs. For example (bonus tip!), if your manual says your car takes 87 octane, spending more on 89 isn’t worth it.
  2. Ask friends for recommendations before your car breaks down. It’s like dating. Word of mouth and a personal connection is always safer.
  3. Once your car does break down and you get that first price, get a second opinion. Because, for every honest tattooed mechanic, you might run into a Puddy

The Jeweler

FIRST: Get it in writing SECOND: Most jewelry counters will actually have a magnifying glass. Those aren’t just for show. You can use it to inspect the stone—the salesperson should let you—and if you see any little round air bubbles, that means it could be glass-filled or reconstructed.

Listen to Rossen to the Rescue's episode on getting ripped off on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or Spotify. And pick up a copy of the book from Amazon, B&N, Indiebound, iBooks, or Booksamillion.

About the Author

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin

Bruce Lubin and Jeanne Bossolina-Lubin are the proud parents of three boys and more than a dozen books. After saving thousands per year using everyday tips and simple lifehacks, they started their own business in the hopes of sharing their knowledge with others. They have been known to go into their friends' refrigerators to turn their eggs upside down so that they last longer.