Traveling is fun, whether you want to go on a solo adventure or head out somewhere with your friends or family. Typically, planning for a trip begins on the Internet. However, as you search for potential destinations online and go through various websites to look for discounts on flights and lodging, you need to be wary of deceptive offers and scams along the way. Here, we want to discuss some important tips for avoiding travel scams you may encounter.
Is It a Scam?
Some of the most common ways that you may be getting taken for a proverbial ride when you are making travel plans include:
Booking lodging or airfare through a “lookalike” site. It looks like a nationally known website, but it is actually a duplicate manned by scammers. From fake websites for popular airlines to federal travelers’ programs such as the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck website, bad guys use these fake websites to harvest your data and possibly steal your identity. Be sure that you are on the official website for the company you are doing business with before you enter any details.
Responding to scam emails that promise promotional perks such as a free flight or accommodations. The scam may be that you enter (and subsequently have your credit card info stolen) or click a link that downloads malware to your device.
Purchasing fake travel police through fraudulent insurance brokers. A common one in recent months offers bogus insurance for coronavirus-related air travel or lodging cancellations.
Renting a vacation property that is listed by a fake booking agent who has duplicated real listings as a means to collect payment for properties that they do not represent or that are not available.
You have likely heard that “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” This old adage holds true for travel scams. Be aware of offers for hotel accommodations or air travel that seem unbelievably cheap. When visiting websites for hotels, travel websites, or airlines, be on the lookout for incorrect spellings or grammatical errors—two indicators that a bad guy residing in a foreign locale may have duped a website for the purpose of perpetrating a fraud on innocent consumers.
Never trust a website just because it has a logo that you recognize or because it places in one of the top spots when you Google a hotel or airline name. Be very cautious when booking travel arrangements; if in doubt, check out the company through the Better Business Bureau (BBB). And finally, always use a credit card when paying for travel expenses, since paying with a debit does not afford as many protections against fraudsters.
The Bottom Line
More than 73,000 reports of scams related to the travel industry were fielded in 2020 alone by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), underscoring the fact that the travel industry is rife with disingenuous actors who are looking to make a fast buck from your misfortune. If you believe you have been a victim of a travel scam, reach out to Sharmin & Sharmin for guidance from our identity theft attorney during this frustrating time.
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