As we start to plan vacations again and with summer fast approaching, keep an eye out for travel scams. Beware of these four indicators that a travel deal may actually be a rip-off.
You can be a travel agent
A fraudster promises free trips and discounted hotel rates if you become a travel agent. They may even send course materials (for a fee, of course). Don’t fall for it. That “certification” won’t convince airlines and hotels to grant you special treatment.
How to avoid: If you want facts about becoming a travel agent, contact professional organizations such as the International Association of Travel Agents. It’s a career path, not a ticket to freebies.
Advance payment required with no contract
A friendly telemarketer or email cons you into paying for a vacation with your credit card. Without a signed contract you don’t know what you’re actually buying.
How to avoid: Never surrender your credit card or banking info over the phone. Always demand details in writing.
Limited time offers
Some legitimate airline and hotel offers are time-sensitive. But beware of sales representatives requiring immediate payment, especially for departure dates 60 days or more in the future. Many banks set a 60-day time limit for disputing credit card charges.
How to avoid: Contact airlines and hotels directly to find last-minute deals. Hang up on high-pressure sellers.
Bait and switch
A scam artist touts a great deal at a beach hotel. But guess what? The hotel is located 10 miles from the beach. If you want an upgrade, you’ll be charged a fee.
How to avoid: Book with hotels directly. Determine where they’re located before you travel. Check online reviews for complaints or issues.