JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – Summer is rapidly approaching and many people are planning to take a vacation, but beware – scammers are making plans too.
The Better Business Bureau wants you to be wary of false promises and a sense of urgency that can fool you into paying for something that doesn’t exist.
There are five common scams to avoid, the BBB says.
1. Vacation Rental Con:
Watch out for listings for properties that either aren’t for rent, don’t exist, or are significantly different than pictured. These con artists lure in vacationers with the promise of low fees and great amenities. The “owner” creates a false sense of urgency – such as telling potential clients that another vacationer is interested in the rental – to get payment up before doing sufficient research or questioning the legitimacy of the ad. The BBB warns you to talk with the owner by phone and check public records before paying for any type of rental property.
2. “Free” Vacation Scams:
When a cruise or travel company advertises a vacation as “free,” it does not necessarily mean the trip is entirely without cost or restrictions. Watch out for add-on fees for air transportation to the port, port charges, taxes, tips, and other undisclosed fees.
3. Hotel Scams:
When staying in a hotel, beware of techniques used to get ahold of credit card information, such as fake calls from the front desk, free wi-fi skimming, and fake food delivery. Scammers count on travelers – tourists and business people alike — being tired or in a hurry. Pay close attention and watch out for these tricks:
4. Third Party Booking Site Scams:
If you book your airfare, hotel or other travel through a third-party website, be sure to use caution. In the most common scam, the BBB says travelers pay with a credit card. Shortly after making the payment, receive a call from the company asking to verify the name, address, banking information, or other personal details – something a legitimate company would never do.
5. Timeshare Reselling Cons:
Scammers may claim to specialize in timeshare resales and promise they have buyers ready to purchase. To secure this service, the scammer pressures the target into paying an upfront fee. The timeshare owner pays up, but the reselling agent never delivers.
Here are four tips for avoiding scams:
- Look for reviews and ask for references. While vetting hotels, travel companies, vacation rentals, and more, check BBB.org for reviews and complaints. Look for photos and a variety of reviews. If the property or company doesn’t have any online reviews, ask for references and call them.
- Avoid wiring money or using a prepaid debit card. These payments are the same as sending cash. Once the money is sent, there is no way to get it back. Paying with a credit card the charges can be disputed and dramatically limit liability from a fraudulent purchase.
- A great deal probably isn’t the truth. Scammers lure in targets by guaranteeing an amazing trip at a very low price. Research it first. If the hotel, travel, or tour is much cheaper than similar options, be suspicious.
- Do some snooping. Check the website for links to the company’s Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram accounts. If they do have social media accounts, check their activity and see if any other users have left reviews or voiced complaints. Also, look for typos and pixelated images. These mistakes are signs of a scammer, not a company that cares about its online presence.
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