How to Spot and Avoid Travel Scams

With Memorial Day and the summer months coming up, many business people are planning vacations and business-related trips to conventions, seminars and trade shows. So before you pay for your vacation or business trip, you should be aware of vacation and travel-related scams and know how to avoid them.

While most travel agents and tour operators are honest and reliable – and you can check them out with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) – be advised that there are unscrupulous travel agents and crooked telemarketers that will take your money and run.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers some good tips below on how to spot and avoid travel scams:

  • Verify and clarify. Call to verify your reservations and arrangements. Get the details behind vague promises that you’ll be staying at a “five-star” resort or sailing on a “luxury” cruise ship. When you have the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the airlines, car rental companies, and hotels you’ll be using, confirm all arrangements with each vendor for yourself.
  •  Put it on paper. Get the details of your vacation in writing. Get a copy of the company’s cancellation and refund policies, and ask “What if…?” Consider whether some form of travel cancellation insurance may be appropriate.
  •  Use a credit card to purchase your trip. If you don’t get what you paid for, you may be able to dispute the charges with your credit card company. However, don’t give your account number to any business until you’ve verified that the business is reputable.
  •  Avoid a travel club flub. Ask questions before joining a travel club. Sometimes, a “free trial” membership can result in unauthorized charges on your credit card. Find out what you’ll get for your money and how you can cancel.
  •  Slow down if you’ve won a “free” vacation. Scam artists may tell you you’ve won a “free” vacation, but then claim to need your credit card number for “verification.” If the promotion is legitimate, you never need to pay for a prize.
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