Who doesn’t like to go on a vacation, away from the ordinary, everyday life? Who doesn’t want to do all this at an affordable price? We all do. And Scammers know that you want to. Scammers target all aspects of your travel plans, and you need to be aware of the dangers to protect yourself.
Here are some of the most common scams that you should watch out for.
1. Vacation Package: Scammers advertise a luxurious, extravagant resort or cruise package for a price too good to be true. You are lured in, pay the deposit, and then realize that the vacation package quality isn’t as high as you expected. The advertisements may have been false or grossly exaggerated, or you may find that you actually owe more fees in order to actually take advantage of the vacation package. Although you realize that the deal is not so great and want to opt out, you can only do so without getting your deposit back.
2. Airfare Scams: Similar to vacation package scams, you see a great price for a round trip flight to the vacation of your choice. The discount on the fare is surprising, and often is advertised to be valid for a limited time. You purchase the airfare, and wait for your email confirmation… .which may never come. In instances when it actually does come, it is a fake confirmation. In some cases, you purchase a ticket only to be told that your credit card has been declined – when actually the money has already been transferred.
3. Vacation Rental Scams: These advertisements are typically on online classified sites. Instead of booking an expensive hotel, you try to find a place to rent for a short period of time at your vacation choice. You find a place that is reasonable, contact the renter, who requests a deposit to hold the place for you. You make the deposit, arrive at your destination and find out that the conditions are not the quality you expected, or worse, that the place does not even exist.
4. Free Vacation Giveaway Scams: You receive an email or a postcard that says you’ve won a “free vacation.” All you have to do is call a number and claim your prize. You call the number, and are told that you will be receiving a vacation package in the mail with specific details. The vacation is free of course – but because it’s such a great prize you will be charged a minimal service charge. You give your credit card number, and you are charged a huge amount of money as a service charge for a “free vacation” that often turns out to be fake.
How Do You Protect Yourself?
1. Get everything in writing – all details, accommodations, conditions, and addresses. If there is a number, call and verify that those places exist.
2. Watch out for vague language such as “luxury” or “extravagant.” Make sure you know exactly what you are paying for.
3. Nothing is free. No free vacation, no free lunch, no free airfare. If you hear that it is free, it is most likely that it’s a scam.
4. Before you give out your credit card information or personal information, do your homework. Research the travel agency, research the cruise, and research your “luxurious” hotel. Look up reviews, look on websites – the more you know, the better chance you have at protecting yourself.
5. For Travel Agencies, look to see if they are registered with the American Society of Travel Agents. (www.asta.org)
6. Always be wary of “too good to be true” offers.