Picture this: you find a great deal online for a vacation package and are counting the days till you take off for some fun in the sun. The day finally arrives and you show up at the airport, bags packed and ready to take flight. But when you reach the ticket counter, you learn that you have no flights booked… you’ve been scammed!
It happens ALL THE TIME, and scammers are getting more and more convincing. Scams rise during any busy travel season, but there are ways to avoid becoming a victim. Here are some tips on how to prevent travel scams and make sure that you get to enjoy a great Spring break trip.
- Verify the business you are booking your trip through. If you are going to use a travel agency or online booking company, make sure they are legitimate first. Go online and do your research – if people have been scammed before by the company, the internet is the first place they will go to vent. You can even ask the company for referrals so you can check up on some satisfied customers.
- Read everything carefully before you sign. Sometimes there are hidden fees or clauses where they can change the airport you are flying into or out of without telling you – even up to 100 miles away! Make sure you know the airline and hotel before signing. This way you can verify their legitimacy. Feel free to contact them and make sure that this is a great deal.
- Always pay with a credit card. Good credit card companies allow you to dispute fraudulent charges so that you are not held liable for the money. If the company insists you pay with cash or check or money order, GO SOMEPLACE ELSE! Legitimate travel companies will let you use a credit card.
- Make sure you get EVERYTHING in writing. If your great deal does turn out to be a scam, you will need something to show the credit card company in order to dispute the charges.
- If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. If they are offering you a flight to Mexico that is regularly $500 for $100, then chances are, it’s a scam. While there are great ways to book your hotel + flight + food + drink together to save money, most don’t offer an 80% discount!
- Buy directly from the companies themselves (airline, hotel, transportation, tickets). Many times the actual companies guarantee the cheapest possible fare on their own website (United does this, for example). Even if it does cost you a bit more, you will sleep better at night knowing that your trip is booked and confirmed.
- A lot of Mexico resorts offer all inclusive packages that are a great deal. You simply need to purchase your airfare. If you are booking it directly through the resort websites themselves, your chances of getting scammed drops immensely.
- Don’t be afraid to try a website like TripAdvisor.com to do some background investigation.
Getting scammed definitely kills the vacation buzz! Getting scammed when you’re ready to have a great time with friends and family just plain sucks! Follow these tips to make sure that it doesn’t happen to you.
John Sileo will be delivering identity theft speeches during Spring Break. Luckily, he travels frequently with his family.