The scams are hot and heavy, with travel returning and everyone out and about. Learn about the latest scams and how to best avoid them.
In the first six months of 2022, Americans lost more than $300,000 to travel scams across the nation, according to the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker.
When planning a vacation, the last thing you want to worry about is being scammed. But unfortunately, travel scams are becoming more and more common as travelers search for deals online.
Before you book your next trip, beware of these popular scams.
Vacation Rental Pawn
Imagine booking a beautiful rental property for your vacation, only to discover it has been massively misrepresented, or it’s not really for rent, or worse yet, it doesn’t even exist.
· Grainy photos
· Pricing that seems too good to be true
· New listings with no reviews
· Multiple reviews with similar phrases
· Requests to provide payment outside a trusted vacation rental platform
To avoid being scammed, always do your research before booking a vacation rental, including carefully reading reviews of the property and the owner.
When in doubt, book through a reputable travel site or work with a travel advisor.
Scam Social Media Ads
Cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated and using social media to find their victims.
In just one example, scammers impersonate airline booking agents on social media and create fake sites that look like mainstream airlines.
If you’re contacted by someone you don’t know about a travel deal, do your research before you give them any personal information. It's also good to search the internet for negative reviews or forum posts by previous customers.
· Requests for personal and financial information from someone you don’t know.
· Social media accounts promoting availability when the legitimate websites of airlines/hotels/cruise lines show they’re sold out.
· Links that arrive via social media messages.
To avoid being scammed, always book via the travel supplier’s official site, or work with a professional travel advisor.
Third-Party Booking Apps
Imagine showing up to check in for your flight or hotel room, only to discover you don't have a reservation. It seems ridiculous, but it happens.
According to the Better Business Bureau, in the most common version of the scam, you’re asked to pay with a credit card as usual. Then, shortly after making the payment, you get a call asking you to verify your name, address, banking information, or other personal details. Of course, a legitimate company would never do this.
To avoid being scammed, we recommend steering clear of third-party booking sites altogether. However, if you do choose to book airfare, hotels, or other travel through third-party websites, please use extreme caution.
More Tips to Avoid Travel Scams
No matter how you choose to book travel, it's essential to follow these guidelines:
· Make sure you get everything in writing.
· Check the cancellation policy.
· Carefully review restrictions and penalties.
· Look for hidden fees. That super cheap airfare isn’t so cheap when you have to pay for bags and seat assignments.
· Avoid wiring money or using a prepaid debit card. With these methods, there's no way to get your money back once it's sent.
· Always pay with a credit card for additional protection. Charges can be disputed and dramatically limit your liability.
· Be wary of “limited time” language. Scammers often use it to entice you to pay before you have time to research the business.
Bottom Line: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
For the safest bet, work with professional travel advisors like us. We partner with reputable travel companies that offer the perfect combination of value and quality. Let us help you plan the best vacation with knowledge and relationships to ensure great memories for you.