Watch Out for These Spring Break Scams

A spring break trip can leave you “spring broke” if you’re not careful. Though, all generations, from college students to their parents and their grandparents have particular challenges during this brief vacation season, students are victimized the most. They fall for fraudulent spring break offers every year, some that lead to financial loss and some that simply lead to disappointing experiences. Typical scams include:

  • Travel packages that do not include confirmed hotel space or airline flights get sold.
  • Extra fees can get tacked onto the “deals” which were not revealed at the time of sale.

Here are tips to help avoid unpleasant spring break travel experiences:

  • Be suspicious of travel offers at extremely low rates or that must be purchased immediately to lock in the price.
  • Get it all in writing. That should include specific airlines and hotels, total cost, cancellation penalties and restrictions where applicable.
  • Call to confirm your arrangement with every hotel, car rental agency and airline involved in your trip.
  • Pay for everything with credit cards if possible. Disputes over charges later will be easier to settle through a credit card company. Remember that wire service funds should be avoided as a means of sending payment because they cannot be tracked or refunded.
  • Let your financial institution know you’ll be traveling out of town, especially if you’re going out of the country, so they don’t freeze your credit card due to suspicions of it being compromised. That will also alert your financial institution if purchases show up from other locations than where you’re visiting – an indication that your account may have been compromised during the trip.
  • Consider your insurance. Check with your homeowners, auto and your medical insurance policies to know what is covered and what is not. You may have to purchase travel insurance if there is some doubt about your coverage. If you’re renting a vehicle, confirm what your own auto insurance covers for auto rentals. You can avoid paying unnecessary fees to the rental company for insurance if you have adequate coverage through your own policy.
  • Let someone within your family or a trusted friend know the details of when, where and how you are travelling. Be especially mindful of “grandparent scams,” in which a scammer calls one of your family members claiming to be you and in trouble. They are trying to get money sent to them by your family member.
  • Don’t post pictures of your vacation on social media sites like Facebook while you’re still away. This can make you a target of a burglary if the wrong eyes see that you and your entire family are out of town and are not going to be home any time soon.

Source: BBB North Alabama

Additional tips about spring break health and safety issues are available at the Center for Disease Control. To report a scam, go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, go to bbb.org.