With summer right around the corner, travel plans are ramping up. But as you research your destination online, scammers are looking to impede on your vacation with deceptive offers. The Better Business Bureau encourages consumers to beware of the following travel scams:
- Vacation Rental Con – Watch out for scammers who post listings for properties that either aren’t for rent, are significantly different than pictured, or don’t exist at all. They will lure you in with the promise of low fees and great amenities (think infinity pools and rooftop hot tubs). Typically, the “owner” will create a false sense of urgency – such as telling you that another vacationer is interested in the rental – to get you to pay up before doing sufficient research.
- Fake Airfare Booking Sites – While doing an online search for cheap flights, you come across what seems like a great deal with a major airline. You book the flight—either through the website or by calling a customer support number—and receive a confirmation message. However, when you look more closely at the email, you notice that you never actually received your ticket.
- “Free” Vacation Scams – When a cruise or travel company advertises a vacation as “free,” it does not necessarily mean the trip is entirely without cost or restrictions. Be on the lookout for add-on fees for air transportation to the port, port charges, taxes, tips, and other undisclosed fees.
How to Avoid Travel Scams
- Do your research. If you come across a company you haven’t dealt with before, research it before making any purchases. Look on BBB.org for reviews and feedback from previous customers.
- Double-check the URL before you enter personal and payment information. It can be easy to click on a sponsored ad or imposter website without noticing. Before you enter any sensitive information, double-check that you are on the right website and that the link is secure. (Secure links start with “https://” and include a lock icon on the purchase page. Learn more at BBB.org/BBBSecure.)
- Be wary of third-party websites. Some websites appear to offer a legitimate service but are only fronts for a scam. Be suspicious of websites with no working customer service number and no physical address. Typos and grammatical errors can be indications of a scammer’s handiwork, too.
- Make online purchases with your credit card. Fraudulent charges made on a credit card can usually be disputed, whereas that might not be the case with other payment methods. Unfortunately, there is no way to get back the personal information you may have shared.
For More Information
If you’ve been a victim of a travel scam, please report your experience at BBB.org/ScamTracker. By doing so you can help others to avoid falling prey to scammers.