Summer is the perfect time to grab some fun in the sun, relax, or enjoy a vacation. But before you pack your bags, Business Consumer Alliance wants to warn travelers to beware of common vacation scams. Don’t let scammers ruin your good time.
You are offered a free vacation, but first you have to pay some fees. A legitimate “free” offer is just that. If you have to pay to join a membership or club, pay taxes or fees, or pay any other type of “fee”, it isn’t free after all. Some free offers come with a large price tag in the end. Always count the cost before accepting any offer.
Vacation Home Rentals
You see a photo of the ideal vacation rental home or condo. The accommodation has all the amenities you can imagine and it’s listed at a steal of a price. Too good to be true? Probably so. Con artists often hijack listings of legitimate rentals, created websites, and post ads offering luxury rentals at low prices. If you are required to send a deposit by wire transfer, money order, prepaid debit card, reloadable card, or even cash, it’s a scam. Once the money is sent, that’s the end of the dream vacation. You probably won’t hear from the scammer again. Some rental scam victims have paid for travel arrangements, only to show up at a residence that is not for rent, already booked by someone else, listed for far more than the scammer's listing price, or the property looks nothing like the advertisement.
Join the Club
High-pressure sales tactics are the last thing most people want to deal with when booking their vacation. Travel clubs can sometimes advertise discounted trips, but the catch is you have to attend a sales presentation or join a travel club. Many who have signed up for travel clubs encounter high membership fees and limited choices in destinations or travel dates. To make matters worse, cancelling the membership or getting a refund is difficult.
Don’t Get Tripped Up With Schemes
Before committing to any deal, it’s always important to do your research. BCA offers a variety of ways to do just that. Start by looking up any company or business at www.checkbca.org. Our reports include company background information, complaint details, and authentic reviews.
Any legitimate business should be willing to answer any questions and provide full details about their offer to customers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Make sure the details of the offer--including costs, restrictions, and policies--are provided.
All details of the offer should be in writing. Take time to read the agreement terms and conditions and any other documents carefully. The contract should provide details regarding the company’s cancellation and refund policies. Don’t forget to check the fine print to know exactly what you are getting into. You might even want to discuss the offer with someone you trust before making a decision.
When you’re ready to pay, use a credit card. Paying with a credit card provides certain protections other payment methods do not. Never, ever wire money. Avoid any offers that require you to pay by wiring money, sending money orders, using prepaid cards, or cryptocurrency. These are the payment methods preferred by scammers. These types of payments are hard to trace and oftentimes consumers are unable to recover their money in case of fraud.
If you are looking to rent a vacation property, Google the listing to see if it is legitimate. You may find information that turns that sweet deal sour. You can search information about the property, including who owns it, so you can reach out to them directly to verify if the property is in fact being rented.
Get recommendations from trusted sources. Ask friends, family, or associates for suggestions on good travel agencies, rentals, hotels, and travel packages. You can also use BCA’s directory to locate a reputable travel service. When you come across an offer that appears too good to be true, trust your instincts. They may be telling you to look more carefully into the offer.
If you have encountered a scam, file a complaint with BCA. Stay updated with consumer tips, scam warnings, and much more by following BCA on Facebook.