Travel safe and avoid summer travel scams
The sun is shining, the beach is calling, and so are the scammers.
Summer is in full swing and you’re itching for a little rest and relaxation. Plan your summer getaway with some BBB approved safety tips and travel checklists that will keep the scammers at bay and have you soaking up the sun in no time.
You may be ready to book your flight to paradise, but it’s important to wade through safe waters before diving head first into the deep end.
The reality is that scammers take advantage of summer vacationers well before they take flight and even after they return to home base through fake travel agencies, fake time-share rentals, and much more. With so many options to choose from and so much information available where should you even start when planning your summer escape?
- DO YOUR HOMEWORK
It’s important to plan ahead when it comes to travel. Make sure you know your destination and what’s available to you. Conduct background checks on your hotel and airline options.
If you opt to work with a travel agency make sure it’s one you can trust. In 2015, the Better Business Bureau of Chicago & Northern Illinois received over 7,000 complaints for travel agencies and bureaus in the United States. Need some help finding the best agency for you? Look here for agencies that are BBB approved.
Don’t jump on the first seemingly good deal you stumble upon. If the rate seems too good to be true, there’s a good chance that it is. The words “free” and “complimentary” usually come with strings attached, so make sure it’s a brand you recognize and be wary of conditions. This includes “prize” vacations. Winning a vacation is possible, but if you don’t remember entering the contest it’s more than likely a scam. Check up on the latest vacation scams with the BBB Scam Tracker.
- READ THE FINE PRINT AND BOOK
So you’ve found your destination, you’ve chosen your hotel, and you’re ready to pass go and collect your ticket to a world of relaxation. Before you book your trip read the fine print.
What is your destination’s cancellation policy? Be sure to get all the details in writing including travel itineraries, booking confirmations and vouchers. If the company asks for upfront payment, backpedal. This is a recognized pattern of summer scam artists. Never give anyone your credit card number over the phone.
You may want to invest in travel insurance just in case you find yourself in shark-infested waters. Travel insurance is designed to cover the times that things unexpectedly go wrong, such as a trip cancellation, a medical emergency, or death in the family. Once you’ve done your research and you feel confident with your decisions it’s time to book your summer adventure!
- BEFORE BOARDING
Don’t forget to take care of your furry friends! The Scammers have been known to sink their claws into summer vacationers by promising lodge and transport of family pets while their owners are away on vacation. Don’t leave your pet stranded; make sure you leave then with someone you trust or someone we trust, like doggy daycare Baxter & Beasley and other accredited pet facilities.
Before you purchase that cute new one piece or an extra pair of flip flops you’ve found for cheap online take a look at these smart online shopping tips.
It’s also a good idea to let your bank or credit card company know that you’ll be away from home. Not only will they know that it is in fact you buying souvenirs at the local surf club gift shop and not an identity thief, but they can also be alerted to any suspicious activity elsewhere should your belongings get stolen while you’re away.
- ONCE IN PARADISE
When making dinner reservations or booking entertainment for the family do your research first. Once again, if a business asks for upfront payment or a credit card over the phone it’s time to get suspicious.
Don’t try to cheat the system and connect to the first free Wi-Fi connection that pops up on your screen. Wait until you’re in a secure location to log on. More and more scammers are trying to steal personal information by creating unsecured networks that people can connect to for free.
Resist the urge to Tweet, Facebook or Instagram your vacation activities while you’re away from home. Your surfing photos may be super gnarly, but nothing says “feel free to break into my home and steal my belongings” like a photo that tells thieves you’re not in the area.
When you come back from paradise don’t forget to help others seeking their own getaway! Recommend a trusted business, submit a review, or suggest an investigation with the BBB to help others start their next summer vacation in the right direction.