The beginning of the New Year is a common time to start planning trips and vacations. It is important to stay alert and educated in order to avoid becoming the victim of scams when traveling. These scams might start off as a call, text message, or flyer in the mail. They could also be in an online advertisement.
The Most Common Travel Scams:
- “Free” Vacations– If you give into these offers, you will have to pay fees and taxes first, making it not really “free”. A legitimate company won’t ask you to pay for a free prize.
- Robocalls about Vacation Deals– Calls that offer vacation deals at discounted prices, asking for your “written” permission.
- International Travel Document Scams– Scammers create fake websites copying the US Department of State website. They try to charge you high fees for services that are actually free on the legitimate US Department of State website.
- International Driving Permit Scams– Scammers create websites to sell fake internal driving permits (IDP). If you buy a fake IDP, you could be detained and face legal problems or travel delays.
- Vacation Home Scams– Scammer tries to get your rental booking by hijacking real rental listings and advertise as their own. Other scammers make up listings for places that are not real or for rent.
Lookout for the Following Signs of a Travel Scammer:
- Says it’s a “free” vacation that you have to pay for. If you have to pay, it’s not really free.
- Doesn’t give specific details about the travel offer. Offer may say you’ll stay at a five star or luxury place, but doesn’t give more specific details, such as address or cruise line name.
- Says the only way to pay for your vacation rental is by wire transfer, gift card, or cryptocurrency. Once they’ve collected the money, it is almost impossible to get back.
- Pressures you to make a quick decision about a vacation package or rental. If someone says you have to decide right away to buy a travel package or rent property, it is most likely not legitimate.
- Advertises premium vacation properties for super cheap prices. If rent is a lot less than comparable rentals, it could be a sign of a scam.
Three Ways to Avoid Travel Scams
- Don’t sign or pay until you know all terms of the deal. Make sure to get a copy of cancellation and refund policies before you pay.
- Do research. Look up travel companies, hotels, rentals and agents with the words “scam”, “review” or “complaint”. Also, verify the property address is legitimate.
- Don’t pay through wire transfers, gift cards, or cryptocurrency. Scammers convince to pay this way because it is unlikely to trace or get your money back.
If you think you may have been targeted by a travel scam, report to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov AND to your state attorney general.