Spring is finally here, and that also means vacation season is upon us. Your BBB® reminds you to watch out for vacation schemes that may leave you without relaxation and without money.
Schemers out there know that now is the time when consumers begin to look for that vacation getaway, and they have many tricks to steal your money. They may create fake websites that look very real and may use the names and logos of popular hotel chains. By using these sites, you not only won’t have a reservation, but will most likely be out money from the credit or debit card used to “hold” the room.
Sometimes they post amazing pictures of the view from homes and condos on property sharing sites or Craigslist. Some of the homes and condos are real and some are fake. In either case, the schemer will pose as the owner and offer it for rent at price that will grab your attention. Unfortunately for those that may take up the offer, their accommodations will either not exist or be inaccessible to them.
Consumers may also receive post cards or emails promising great travel packages or “free” cruises. Like the rental properties, some offers may be real and some may not be. If the offer actually exists, you may be limited in when you can use the offer so read the fine print carefully.
So how do you avoid taking a vacation to nowhere?
Your BBB and the FTC have the following tips:
Don’t be a victim. Oftentimes, vacation scammers will use high-pressure sales tactics and make you feel coerced to buy the limited-time deal on the spot. A reputable business or travel agent will provide any information that you request, and give you time to decide before booking a vacation.
Search online for the listing or offer. Use the words scam, review or complaint to find information from others who may have identified it as a rip-off.
Search BBB for a Business Review on the company making the offer. Consumers receiving an offer that purported comes from a business can check with BBB to see what information is available on the company including whether or not there have been any complaints.
If the offer is for a rental property, check the address online to ensure the property is real. And request to receive a copy of the contract before sending money.
Pay with a credit card. For your best protection against a dishonest seller of travel, pay for your accommodations or trip with a major credit card such as Mastercard, Visa or American Express. If problems arise, you may be able to dispute the charges with your credit card company. Important note: This protection may not apply to those using debit or check cards; it’s important to confirm policies with your issuing bank before you charge.
Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Before signing on the dotted line make sure all of the details have been clearly outlined and the pricing has been thoroughly explained. Double check whether there are hidden cancellation fees, port charges, or insurance processing fees that haven’t been covered.
Consider investing in travel insurance. Travel insurance can provide protection in the event of an accident, an illness, lost luggage, or a canceled or interrupted trip, among other things. Follow the same steps outlined here when buying travel insurance.
For more information you can trust, visit bbb.org/Evansville.