Alarm bells started ringing- by columnist Nicole King

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WHEN something sounds too good to be true it usually is. Lately, I’ve received many enquiries; all seem to be about scams.  

Then today I myself received a message offering me a longterm rent in a very exclusive area at a very reasonable price. At first I didn’t think anything was amiss.

Initially, they asked me questions about my personal validity as a possible tenant. In reply, I   confirmed the basics and then they replied that they were a   middle-aged couple, now living in Bilbao and renting the place out personally, with special conditions.

The message continued that they’d let me know how to proceed if I was still interested.   Alarm bells rang and I remembered having had this experience when in South Carolina also looking for rental properties.

People contact you and engage you in a chit chat, make you feel comfortable, firstly by asking questions to ensure you’re legit; making us less likely to suspect any wrongdoing by them;   apparently. Then comes either the “you can’t see it inside or need upfront payment or lease signing upfront” to take advantage of the amazing opportunity.   If this happens to you, do like I   did – email the Local Police to let them know: marbella.participacion@policia.es and hopefully avoid someone else falling into the trap.

Similar alarm bells ring when I   get aggressive phone calls from people claiming to be from law firms or regarding your bank card that demand you confirm your NIE before they can give you the message.

How do we know who they are? Always demand notification in writing. Frequently the more official and the more belligerent they are the more you can bet your bottom dollar they don’t have a leg to stand on;   they are relying on the scare tactic and your fear of the unknown.

On this note I came to question the quality of my Spanish just recently. I had three phone calls with a car mechanic and two personal visits, after which I still had no idea what was going on.   At first, I thought it was my lack of familiarity with the vocabulary related to a car engine, but I   came to realise that they just didn’t want me to understand.

When they said that I had to pay before getting an invoice I   knew for a matter of fact this was not the case and also knew for a   fact that my Spanish hadn’t been the issue.

I insisted on an invoice and then a written quotation to see what else they said needing fixing. When the quote arrived things were repeated that were on the original invoice; my suspicions were again confirmed.

Fortunately, thanks to my Linea Directa policy even though I wasn’t really covered for it, as my car had been towed there following a breakdown and I dared calling them to tell them what was happening, they sent a tow truck, free of charge and took it to another garage for me.

Fingers crossed with this one!! Watch this space.

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