How To Avoid Travel Scams

People gloat about deals on the internet and how they won something on EBay for almost nothing or how they booked a cruise for a measly 99 dollars.  Most of us are awed by such claims and wish we also were able to get some of the action.

So be aware of these scams and try to get referrals from people you know before you put in your money. Always check the site out before you pay with credit cards (not check or cash). Credit cards are a smarter choice because legally, at least in the US, the credit card companies are liable to give us the money back if the deal turns sour.

Fly-by-the-night schemes – Many “businesses” show up on the internet, accept money orders and credit cards from unsuspecting customers promising them amazing cruises, adventurous treks and relaxing travel vacations. And then they just disappear!! It’s easy because the internet is not governed by anyone! There are no laws and there are very few safety nets in place for the largest scam net in the world! Always try to find out how long these people have been in business. Do they have a local address and a local telephone number? Which country are they based in? Find out as much as you can before you open your wallet.

Discount travel clubs – are not really discounted at all! They may even take money from you for “membership fees”. Any club that obviously makes a lot of money does not need membership fees.

Become a Travel Agent – This is another scam that is all over the internet . Many people fall for it because it sounds so lucrative. The marketing for all these advertisements have catchy phrases that compare your “boring life as it is now” to the “fabulous time” you will have in the future if you do this or join that. The list goes on. If you want to become a travel agent, ask a travel agent in your town. That is the safest way. An agent has to work very hard for years to get to a point where they can help a lot of people. So forget becoming a travel agent overnight and do it the right way if you really want to become one.

Pricing scams – At first glance an airline ticket or a cruise seems like a steal, but it takes a travel agent to tell you about the taxes and fees and return tickets that should be added to these false claims to see the total amount that will be charge on your unsuspecting credit card! Knowledge is power. So thoroughly read the fine print, discuss with your friends and family and call a trusted travel agent to ask them about the company before you type in your credit card numbers!

Timeshare Promises – Beware of giving out your name and address for sweepstakes or local spa certificates. These are a ploy to get your names and send you timeshare information. Most of the time, we get caught unawares in timeshare nets while trying to get out of the airport into a taxi or while strolling along main street in a strange town. Time share idea sounds wonderful; Free accommodation for a week in exchange for sitting through a 45 minute presentation. Ah, the catch is, the 45 minute presentation usually takes a whole day while we are more or less forced to agree to the idea since the pressure is On to make a decision or lose a “fortune”!

Selection Award – Typical claims in scams include the one shown in:

Some of us who see this can immediately spot is as scam, but most of the elderly and some of the younger surfers fall for it. Most of us want to win ‘something” and this yearning is exploited by these scammers or criminals to make money for themselves.

The American society of Travel Agents suggests that to avoid being a victim of scams:

Be extremely skeptical of postcard and phone claims that you have been selected for a fabulous vacation.
Receive complete details in writing about any trip before you pull out the credit cards. This should include total prices, cancellation and change penalties and what is included with the prices and what is not.
Do not call a 900 numbers in response to travel claims, they are exorbitantly expensive and you will lose a lot of money.
Always take the time out to speak to someone knowledgeable about vacations and current prices, etc before you make a decision. Never allow anyone to pressure you to make a decision. If they insist that you have to make the decision, that’s a red flag!
Be suspicious of companies that make you wait for 60 days before taking a trip
Be aware of sports travel packages which are sold during major sporting events, like the Super Bowl, the Daytona 500 and World Series. These offers may be legitimate, but many of them are not! So choose wisely!
Checking your emails has become a terrible chore now that our inbox is riddled with useless ads and spam emails from all over the world. We may wonder who will ever believe these claims and respond to these criminals. Unfortunately there are lots of innocent surfers who have lot thousands to inheritance emails and other scams.

Remember, even prisons have easy access to the internet. Criminals on and off the net are known for scamming anyone that they think is gullible to their claims of prosperity and a better way of life.  What we regular folks need to remember when we see these preposterous claims is that there are no free lunches. We pay for everything we get, in some way or another!

Although it is smart idea to save as much money as possible, we also need to aware of the red flags so that we can truly enjoy our well deserved vacation!