How to Avoid Travel Scams3 min read
If something seems to good to be true, it probably is. The same goes with travel scams wrapped up in the enticing package of an “incredible deal.”
Last month, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) cracked down on hundreds of cases of travel fraud that had caused victims to be defrauded out of $14 million. While most of the victims of these travel scams were the elderly or those in financial hardship, it can happen to anyone.
What’s the best way to avoid losing your hard-earned money to one of these scammers? Learning about the types of scams out there, and following tips to make sure it doesn’t happen to you.
Types of Scams
- Vacation Rental Scams: Many times, a scammer will post an ad for a cheap rental house onto an online classified site, such as craigslist.com. And since they often use images from real property listings to make it appear legitimate, many will fall victim to paying deposits and never getting anything in return.
- Timeshare Purchase Scams: Some offers might lure victims with promises of an out-of-this-world free gift, such as a car or cruise package, and a large delivery fee. But instead of receiving the incredible gift, victims end up receiving something that falls far short of what was promised.
- Fraudulent Timeshares: This type of scam occurs when scammers make an enticing offer for a great deal on a timeshare and then says they “went out of business” after they’ve received your deposit. Victims are left without the promised timeshare or their deposit money.
- Fraudulent Vacation Packages: Some victims will purchase a discounted vacation package, only to be charged additional fees or discover that the quality of the package is much lower than expected. And like many of these other scams, attempts to recover their deposits or payments are unsuccessful.
- Airfare Scams: This type of travel fraud occurs when a victim purchases discounted airfare, has their credit card declined, and is forced to make a wire transfer. In the end, they end up with no ticket and can’t get their money back.
Tips to Avoid Becoming a Victim
- Research: Before you buy anything, research research research! Look for more information about the company online, as well as reviews from others who may have purchased travel packages from them. You can also see if they’re listed on the Better Business Bureau and check if the company is registered with the American Society of Travel Agents.
- Get the Details: Many times, scammers will leave out important details or offer deceitful promotions. Make sure you get everything in writing before purchasing anything.
- Always Use Your Credit Card: If you fall victim to travel fraud, you can dispute charges with your credit card company.
- Think First: Don’t be quick to believe that you’ve actually won a free vacation or have the opportunity to purchase an unbelievable vacation package. Scammers often use this enticing bait to get your credit card information and/or money.
Remember, if a deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is.