Have you ever received a vacation opportunity through the mail or internet? It may be tempting to accept if it sounds like a great offer. However, many of these tempting offers are actually travel scams.
Scam artists will offer amazing travel deals, even free trips, to get consumers to give them their credit card information. Consumers will then find many hidden costs and fees that turn a bargain trip into an expensive one. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides valuable information to help protect consumers from travel scams. Make sure you're prepared so that you don't became the latest victim.
Common Travel Scam Tactics
There are a variety of ways in which scam artists attempt to get your money. They'll usually make oral misrepresentations during their sales pitches. They can't deliver the great travel deals that they're promising to consumers.
Scam artists will usually try to get consumers to make decisions quickly. They know that consumers have a greater chance of realizing it's a scam the more time they have to think about it. Lines like "This amazing travel offer is good for only a limited time!" are very common.
Many scam artists will attempt to make the travel deals sound as real as possible. They'll offer affordable, not free, vacations. Consumers are more likely to believe a reasonable vacation offer instead of a free one.
Written follow-up material will many times be completely different from what was orally promised in person or over the phone. Additional conditions, terms and costs will commonly be found in the written materials.
Protecting Yourself from Travel Scams
Many great travel deals are legitimate. You don't want to have to pass on every travel opportunity for fear of a scam. There are certain steps you can take to distinguish between legitimate and fraudulent travel offers.
Don't ever feel pressured into purchasing a vacation. You need to take your time to determine whether the travel deal is okay. Legitimate businesses will rarely push you into a travel opportunity. They have nothing to hide, so they aren't afraid of you thinking the deal over.
Don't fall for deals that are too good to be true. Most legitimate businesses won't be able to offer vacations dramatically lower in price than other legitimate businesses. Only scam artists that don't have to deliver on their travel offers are able to offer such low prices.
Always get detailed information about travel opportunities. Make sure to get any information in writing. It'll be much easier to examine a travel offer for hidden costs if it's laid out in front of your eyes.
Only give your credit card information over the phone if you know the company is legitimate. You open yourself up to fraud if you give this information to someone you don't know.
You can dispute any fraudulent charges under the Fair Credit Billing Act if you use a credit card. You can dispute a charge up to 60 days after the statement date of your credit card bill. You lose this right if you pay by cash or check.
Turn down any travel offers that make you feel uncomfortable. Trust that your instincts are protecting you from a bad situation. It's better to be safe than sorry.
Complaining about Travel Scams
Every state has an agency or division that deals with consumer protection. Your State Attorney General should be able to help you or point you in the right direction. You can also file a complaint with the FTC. Free consumer protection information can be found on the FTC web site or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).
Questions for Your Attorney
- Is it okay to go to seminars that promise amazing travel opportunities?
- Can I ever believe a free vacation offer over the phone, or is it always a scam?
- I fell for a travel scam. Is there any way to get my money back?
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