ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KFVS) - This is the time of year when people often begin to plan for next year’s vacation. But scammers prowl the internet hoping to fool the unwary into falling for bogus travel deals.
Scammers target travelers by offering travel packages at unrealistically low prices. In order to avoid a vacation pitfall, it’s important to research before you book your trip. Consumers have filed more than 300 reports to BBB Scam Tracker in 2019 about vacation and travel scams. Some have reported losses in the thousands.
A woman from Franklin County, Mo. reported a common travel scam to Scam Tracker in September 2019. The woman believed she had called a major airline company to book a trip when she was actually speaking with scammers. The woman reported losing $550 for plane tickets she never received.
In order to avoid a travel scam, BBB offers the following advice:
- Plan ahead. Allow yourself time to research hotels, flights and the area you will be staying. Typically, the earlier you make reservations, the better the price you will likely find and the lower the risk of your destination being booked solid.
- Avoid broad internet searches. Avoid entering phrases like “best deals” into an Internet search engine. Broad search terms can sometimes lead you to websites that look official, but are designed solely to rip people off.
- Be alert for travel scams. Watch out for phone calls or letters claiming that you have “won a trip.” Often, these trips have hidden fees.
- Get the details in writing. Before making a final payment, get all the details of the trip in writing. This should include the total cost, restrictions, cancellation penalties, and names of airlines and hotels. Review and keep a copy of the airline’s and hotel’s cancellation policies, as well as the cancellation policies of the travel agency or booking company you are using.
- Consider travel insurance. Travel insurance covers things like trip cancellations or medical emergencies. There are different levels of coverage based on what type of plan you purchase. Ask a lot of questions, and always read the fine print to see what is covered and what isn’t.
- Pay with a credit card. Paying with a credit card gives you additional protection if something should go wrong with the reservation.