Caution: Scammers On Board

Caution: Scammers On Board!

When one plans this year’s vacation with family and friends, or simply business travel – the last thing wished for would be a great travel scam .

The season for vacations and holidays is upon us and scam artists, looking for great pigeons, are everywhere.

Oftentimes, the victims recognize that they have been scammed too late to do anything about the situation, and are left with no options to recover. They simply end up paying for the non-existent services.

Scammers wait for this opportune time of the year. Here are some tips to avoid them:

1. Most all bulk email travel deals (or free vacations) are scams. If you are offered a travel deal by email, it’s almost certainly a scam.

Also, be very skeptical if offered a travel deal by phone. If you’re unfamiliar with the company, get its name, address, and local telephone number. Check them out. Unless they have a legitimate local or regional office, it’s probably bogus.

2. If it sounds too good to be true – it probably is. Listen for the details — or read the fine print.

In many travel scams, your airfare may be free, but you agree to stay in particular accommodations that are outrageously expensive.

Another type of too-good-to-be-true pitch is winning a contest or lottery. If you’ve won a contest, get more details. Public contests and lotteries have rules and regulations — and you normally have to enter to win.

If you didn’t enter, you didn’t win anything. You’ll be asked to pay fees. If you’ve won a legitimate contest or lottery, it shouldn’t cost you anything to get your winnings or prize.

3. Never give your credit card number over the phone unless you made the phone call and you know that you’re dealing with a reputable company. Never disclose any other personal details, like your checking account or social security number.

4. Be cautious of travel deals in which the availability is more than 60 days away. You can only dispute credit card charges within 60 days.

5. If you think you are interested in the offer, always ask what’s isn’t included. Service charges, processing fees, and taxes are typically added on after the fact — and you’ll be expected to pay for them.

Ask for specific details, too. Many travel scams are based on really vague information — for example, they’ll use phrases like major airline without naming it.

6. Ask for references — and contact them. But be wary of references simply parroting everything.

These tips should keep you from being taken by future travel scams. If you feel you have been scammed, your state Consumer Dept. or Attorney General may be able to help.

7. Get copies of everything — for example, your receipts, your itinerary, and the company’s cancellation and refund policies.

8. Don’t give in to high pressure tactics that push you into making rash decisions. Scammers use lines like, “This is the last day that we’ll be making this offer” or “This offer expires at midnight.”

If it’s great deal, why should they pressure you to decide without checking it out?

9. Don’t ever make a payment before you receive all the information. If you’re required to pay to get the information – it’s a scam.

10. Never dial a 900 number to reach a travel agency or club. No legitimate company requires you to pay for a 900 call to phone their customer service desk.

Also, beware of calling numbers with 664, 758, or 809 area codes. Those seem ordinary, but are actually like unregulated 900 numbers located in the Caribbean charging jacked-up rates.

Have a great vacation this summer!

Vacation/Travel Fraud

Image via Wikipedia

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