Vacation scams: what you need to know

Another step is to compare prices and packages. Get the details of any offer in writing, including all service charges and additional fees. Read the fine print, and see how the prices compare to other service providers. Another word of caution: avoid giving your credit card information over the phone or Internet unless you are familiar with the agent and company.

Research can be a tricky if you’re contacted by phone and don’t have online resources handy. Tell the caller you want to research the company (including contacting the BBB) and do a little comparison shopping first. A travel company with nothing to hide should not be intimidated or offended by this request. Don’t worry about losing out on a one-time-only-deal; that’s a high pressure tactic to get you to accept without asking questions.

As with any other large purchase, consulting with an expert (in this case a travel agent) and dealing with a well-reputed company can save a lot of time, hassle and unnecessary expense.

If you get caught, report it
The travel industry is in the top 25 industries for fraud for a good reason: despite the warnings, people are still falling prey scams regardless of their age, education or financial situation. What can travellers do? File a complaint with a consumer organization such as the BBB, the Federal Trade Commission (US), or (an international website for e-commerce complaints). Agencies may vary by country, but it’s worth taking a look because many of these can help resolve complaints and make sure incidences of fraud are investigated by local authorities.

Learning how to identify and avoid travel scams will make sure your travel money doesn’t end up in the hands of criminals.

BBB Warns Vacationers
Don’t Get Tripped Up When Traveling (FTC)

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