Awe summertime! There’s nothing better than this time of year. It is time for sunshine, relaxation, and lots of fun vacations. Unfortunately, it is also prime time for vacation scammers. Travel scams are of the rise, and this article is designed to alert you of the 7 top vacation scams. We also wanted to provide you tips on how to avoid being a victim of vacation scams so that you can enjoy your summer getaways.
Vacation scammers are always looking to take advantage of unsuspecting travelers eager to get a “good deal” on their travel plans, especially during the summer time. Travel scams are most prevalent in popular vacation spots and favorite tourist cities, but scams can happen everywhere. Before you “book it”, please read below and become informed of the most popular vacation scams.
Types of Vacation Scams
Fake Rental Ads and Fake Booking Websites
The FTC says that scam artists frequently advertise fake vacation rentals or real rental properties with their contact information. The plan is to get vacationers to wire them money before they realized they had been tricked. Also, some fraudulent third party booking services will collect your money without actually making the reservation.
Metro Ticket Scams
Be aware of this sneaky scheme when you are visiting a city with a public transit system. Scammers will see out tourists who look like they are struggling with the ticket vending machine.
They offer to “help” you buy the ticket you need in exchange for cash and then quickly hand you a lower priced or invalid ticket. The victim won’t realize they can’t use the ticket until the scammer is long gone. Do not accept help from anyone except a uniformed employee when buying a transit ticket!
Fake Food Delivery Services
If you find a take-out menu at your hotel door, do not order from it. It very likely could be a scam. The scammer will put their phone number on the real looking menu. When you call; they will take your order and your credit card information, the only problem is the food never comes to your door.
Street Retail Bullies
This is very common in big cities and beach resorts. You’ve seen the people walking around handing out seemingly free items such as CDs, flowers, string bracelets, etc. These bullies will then follow you around and harass you demanding payment for the “free item” and sometimes confront you with a “gang” of vendors. Do not accept anything on the street from a vendor other than a flyer.
Fake Airline Giveaways
“If it sounds too good to be true, it is” was practically created for social media and fake accounts. Offers to win free airline tickets if you “like” an airline’s page are not only fake but dangerous these sites collect personal information from users, which can be sold and lead to identity fraud. To stay safe, always confirm directly with the company that has the giveaway to ensure it is real instead of signing up with a third party like Facebook.
Vacation Ponzi Schemes
These schemes may sound like a good idea at the beginning but can cost you dearly in the long run. These scams usually but not always target senior citizens in states such as Florida. Participants are invited on their dime to listen to a presentation and then duped into paying for expensive vacations up front that never materializes.
This is sometimes a problematic scam to spot. Some of these offers come from seemingly legitimate corporations such as travel clubs that offer discounts and other special privileges for travelers and offer a free vacation when you sign up for the club, but then make it nearly impossible to book the trip.
For example, the club will tell you that you have a year to cash in on the free vacation, but whenever you try to do so, they are booked and eventually tell you that you missed the deadline.
How to Avoid Vacation Scams
- No vacation destination is guaranteed to be 100% fraud-free, but you can decrease your chances of getting duped by following some essential travel safety tips listed below:
- Use your common sense.
- Do not post anything about your trip until you return home from your trip.
- Avoid public Wi-Fi networks an add a password and tracking tool to your mobile device in case you lose it.
- Take only the documents and credit cards with you that you will need during the trip.
- Make copies of your identification.
- Write down credit card and medical insurance information in case your wallet is stolen.
- Verify food establishments for food delivery are valid and only pay cash at the time of delivery.
- It’s better to use points or miles to get a free trip. No strings attached.
- Book all trips with a credit card as opposed to a debit card. Most credit cards offer trip protections and refunds for fraudulent charges. Debit cards give scammers direct access to your bank account.
We recommend that you utilize Social Catfish if you experience any suspicion in regards to all the scams we have discussed. Try to think of us while planning your vacation to avoid being a vacation scam victim and have “Fun in the Sun”!