Avoiding common travel scams

Updated April 03, 2024

In the age of digital connectivity, travel scams have become increasingly prevalent. From “free” vacations to robocalls about vacation deals, and vacation home scams, travelers need to be vigilant to avoid falling prey to such deceptive practices.

 “Free” vacations are a common scam.

Advertisements online, emails, calls, or text messages may claim that you’ve won a vacation. However, these “free” vacations often have hidden fees and taxes. Legitimate companies will not ask you to pay for a supposedly free prize.

Robocalls offering vacation deals at discounted prices are another common scam.scam-rental

These calls are illegal unless the company has obtained written permission from you. If you receive such a call without permission, it’s likely a scam or, at the very least, a company you should avoid.

Vacation home scams have also become widespread.

Scammers hijack real rental listings and advertise them as their own. When you arrive for your vacation, you may find that other people have also booked the same property, leaving you without a place to stay and out of pocket. Some scammers even create listings for non-existent properties.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers tips on how to spot and avoid travel scams. Scammers often advertise a “free” vacation that you have to pay for, don’t provide specific details about the travel offer, insist on payment via wire transfer, gift card, or cryptocurrency, pressure you to make quick decisions or advertise premium vacation properties at suspiciously low prices.

To avoid travel scams, follow these three steps:

  1. Understand the terms: Don’t sign or pay until you know the terms of the deal. Obtain a copy of the cancellation and refund policies before you pay. If you can’t get these details, walk away.
  2. Do your research: Look up travel companies, hotels, rentals, and agents with the words “scam,” “review,” or “complaint.” Check that the address of the property exists. If the property is in a resort, call the front desk and confirm their location and other details on the contract.
  3. Safe payment methods: Avoid paying with wire transfers, gift cards, or cryptocurrency. If there’s a problem with what you paid for, you’ll lose your money, and there’s likely no way to track it or get it back.

By being aware and taking these precautions, you can protect yourself from travel scams and enjoy your vacation with peace of mind.

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