Six Signs It’s a Travel Scam
Posted on May 16, 2013 in News Releases
Have you been approached in person, received a telephone call, a postcard, an email or a text message from a travel company offering free or discounted activities, free vacation, free airfares or substantial discounts. Not sure if you’re dealing with a travel scam? Here are six signs that sun-filled getaways aren’t what they seem:
- You “won a free vacation” or “free airfare” but you have to pay some fees first. A legitimate company won’t ask you to pay for a prize. “Free” or “low cost” vacations can end up costing a bundle in hidden or uncovered costs, such as upgrading hotel accommodations, inflated charge for a “second” person, restricted travel dates and handling fees. Some of these vacations never take place, even after you’ve paid.
- The prize company wants your credit card number. Even if they say it’s just for “verification,” “taxes,” or “port fees,” don’t give your credit card number or any personal bank information.
- They cold-call, cold-text, or email you out of the blue. Before you do business with any company you don’t know, call the Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for a complaint history on the company. Since scammers continue to use new company names, OCP and the BBB may not have received any complaints on the new company. Therefore, you should also check on the company online by entering the company’s name and the word “complaints” or “scam.” There may be “blogs” by victims who were earlier contacted by the scammers.
- They don’t or can’t give specifics. They promise a stay at a “five-star” resort or a cruise on a “luxury” ship. The more vague the promises, the less likely they’ll be true. Ask for specifics, and get them in writing.
- You’re pressured to sign up for a travel club for great deals on future vacations. Many travel clubs promise huge discounts on hotels, airfares, and cruises but fail to deliver despite the high cost of joining. The pressure to sign up or miss out is a sign to walk away. Travel clubs often have high membership fees and limited choice of destinations or travel dates.
- You get a robocall about it. Companies are using autodialers that can send out thousands of phone calls every minute at an incredibly low cost. Robocalls from companies are illegal if you haven’t given a company written permission to call you. That’s true even if you haven’t signed up for the national Do Not Call Registry.
If you think you may have been targeted by a travel scam, your may report it to the Office of Consumer Protection. For more information on travel scams, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website: www.ftc.gov/travel.