BBB shares travel scams, tips ahead of Memorial Day


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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Copyright 2022 WLBT. All rights reserved.



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BBB shares travel scams, tips ahead of Memorial Day


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.

Want more WLBT news in your inbox? Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Copyright 2022 WLBT. All rights reserved.



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BBB shares travel scams, tips ahead of Memorial Day


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.

Want more WLBT news in your inbox? Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Copyright 2022 WLBT. All rights reserved.



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10 Tips to Avoid Phishing Scams


Whether you own a business or are simply trying to manage a household budget, phishing scams and cyberattacks are a risk to your security.

According to Proofpoint’s 2021 State of the Phish Report, more than 80% of organizations fell victim to a phishing scam the previous year. A frustrating aspect to this fraud is that despite most people knowing it can happen, many still get caught up in it, oftentimes even entering personal or financial information. 

Scams are increasingly on the rise and typically occur via email, masked phone calls, pop-ups or through social media messaging. Emails can often sound so personal that the receiver assumes it’s from someone they know well. There are several actions that organizations and individuals can take to protect themselves and their assets from phishing and cyberattacks. 

1. Do not click on suggested links: It’s advised not to click on any link offered through an email or social media messaging, even if you think you know the sender. Some phishing attacks are sophisticated enough to make the destination URL look like a carbon copy of a genuine site with the goal to record keystrokes or steal login/credit card information. If you feel it may be a legitimate link, go to the site straight through a search engine as opposed to clicking on the link. 

2. Scrutinize the sending email address: One of the easiest ways to detect a scam is to look closely at the email address sending the message. If it’s a gmail account or some other type of “homemade” email address, be cautious. If it ends in a valid site domain, it may be an authentic message. 

3. Educate yourself on what phishing scams look like: There are many websites and newsletters that will help teach you about popular and current phishing scams. If you know the signs, it’s easier to catch fraudulent messages. Staying up-to-date with this information is especially important if you own a business. Ensure your employees know what to look for. 

4. Get free anti-phishing add-ons: Today’s browsers will enable you to download add-ons that spot the signs of a malicious website or alert you about phishing scams. These add-ons are generally free so there’s no reason not to use one. If you’re a business owner, encourage your employees to use them as well. 

5. Do not input your information into unsecured sites: There are two main ways to detect if a website is secure. The URL should begin with “https” and you should be able to see a closed padlock next to the URL. If you do not see both of these key indicators, do not enter any personal information. 

6. Rotate passwords regularly: If you have accounts where you must sign in with a password, get into the habit of rotating passwords regularly. This will prevent an attacker from gaining unlimited access. Many sites prompt you to do this on a routine basis, but if they do not, set reminders to do it on your own. 

7: Pay attention to updates: It’s easy to click “ignore” when an update tries to initiate. People are impatient and do not want to wait for the update to go through its process; however, updates are very important when it comes to security. Security patches and updates are released for good reason. If you constantly ignore them you will be putting your personal information at risk. 

8. Be wary of screenshots: Scammers often use screenshots of logos, products, letters or other items to make it look authentic. If the email is full of screenshots, be wary. This is probably a criminal trying to make the email look legitimate. 

9. Don’t be tempted by pop-ups: Not only are pop-ups irritating, they are also often linked to malware as part of an attempted phishing attack. Pop-ups can look very real as if they’re coming from Microsoft or Apple. Many prompt you to call a 1-800 number and then try to hide the “close” button so it looks like it’s impossible to remove the pop-up without first calling. The closeout “x” is often hidden in the corner. Most browsers now allow users to install a free ad-blocker which helps with annoying pop-ups. 

10. Update contact information with financial institutions: Ensure that your contact information is always updated with your financial, loan and credit card institutions. That way, if there is a strange charge or the institution needs to look into something, they can get in touch with you immediately. 

Phishing scams and cyber attackers are everywhere, so be very cautious with anything you do online. Further, these hackers often target elederly people who are more trusting of phone calls than younger generations. If you have older people in your life, make sure they know the signs of phishing scams. It takes a united front to stop these criminals. 

This article was written in cooperation with Champion Credit Union. For more details or to update your contact information, click HERE.



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Better Business Bureau offers tips on avoiding summer travel scams


RALEIGH, N.C. – Traveling soon? BBB Serving Eastern North Carolina is warning consumers about travel scams that lost consumers an average of almost $3,200 per report, according to data provided from BBB Scam Tracker.

Scammers often take advantage of consumer habits and capitalize on trending internet searches, enticing consumers with great deals to popular destinations or all-inclusive packages. While these scams persist year-round, they often increase in frequency during periods of increased travel, such as spring break and the holiday or summer season.

When planning an event or looking for a good deal for a family vacation or getaway, BBB encourages people to plan ahead to save money, avoid scams, and travel safely. 

Scammers will often target people looking for great deals online by offering tempting vacation packages at unrealistically low prices. One place to begin an online search is BBB.org for finding reputable travel agencies, agents and websites.

BBB adds the following tips to help ensure an enjoyable vacation:

  • Plan ahead. Allow plenty of time to research hotels, flights, and the area where you will be staying. Typically, the earlier reservations are made, the better the deals and the lower the risk of the destination being booked solid. Making reservations in advance also locks in rates and prevents higher prices later during prime spring break, peak summer, or holiday travel seasons.
  • Avoid broad internet searches. Entering phrases like ‘best deals’ into whichever search engine used can sometimes bring up 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 a ‘free trip’ or websites offering prices that appear too good to be true. It’s easy to extend questionable offers like these, but the vast majority of them leave hopeful travelers in limbo – and out moneyLearn more about travel scams here.
  • Do your homework. Ask family and friends to recommend a travel agent or travel website and visit BBB.org for free Business Profiles. Research the business and read customer reviews about any rentals under consideration. 
  • Get trip 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 the airlines and hotels. Also, review and keep a copy of the airline’s and hotel’s cancellation and refund policies, as well as the cancellation policies of the travel agency or booking site used.
  • 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 purchased. Ask a lot of questions, and always read the fine print to see what’s covered and what’s not.
  • Pay with a credit card. Paying with a credit card provides additional protection if something should go wrong with the travel reservation.
  • Planning to travel internationally? Check to see if there are any advisories affecting Canada and the U.S. Travel Association for any issues that may impact the trip.

No matter when or where you are traveling, take extra precautions:

  • Wait to post on social media. It’s fun to post adventures with friends and family, but wait until getting back from the trip. Photos and social media posts of the family having a great time also lets thieves know the house is empty.
  • Check your home insurance. If your home will be unattended while away, make sure you know your responsibilities under your home insurance policy. Some policies do not cover damage if nobody checks on your home for a certain amount of time.
  • Share a copy of the itinerary with a family member or close friend. Include the contact information of someone joining you on your trip.
  • Take a map. People rely heavily on smartphones and GPS. Consider having an atlas or hard copy map just in case of technical difficulties or lack of service. 
  • Check the weather conditions where you will be traveling and pack appropriate supplies and clothing.
  • Avoid traveling alone. Use the buddy system and stick with the group.





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Commissioner Nikki Fried Shares Tips for Avoiding Scams During Older Americans Month / 2022 Press Releases / Press Releases / News & Events / Home


Tallahassee, Fla. — With May marking Older Americans Month, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumers Services Nikki Fried is sharing tips to recognize and avoid consumer fraud scams, specifically those that target seniors.

“With $3 billion in annual losses from scammers among older Americans, it is critical to educate our seniors and caretakers of elderly loved ones on how to recognize the signs of fraudulent activity to protect against fraud,” said Commissioner Fried. “Together, we can help raise awareness of the warning signs to protect against becoming a victim of fraud and crack down on those criminals targeting seniors – not just during Older Americans Month but year-round.”

General Rules to Avoid Scams:

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommend the following tips to help avoid fraud:

  • Resist pressure to take immediate action. Scammers will try to isolate you and will use scare tactics to create a sense of urgency. Don’t be rushed, and don’t believe anyone who says you don’t have time to talk to a friend or family member. Take the time to do your own research and talk with someone you trust.
  • Do not send money. If you are contacted by someone asking you to transfer money for them, it is most likely a scam. Wiring money is like sending cash. Once you send it, it’s gone. It is also never a good idea to deposit a check from someone you don’t know, especially if the stranger is asking you to wire money back to them.
  • Be wary of gift cards and cryptocurrency. Scammers utilize these forms of payment because they are hard to trace. Once the information from your gift card is obtained, it can be used by anyone. No legitimate business or government agency will insist that you pay with a gift card. For this same reason, anyone asking you to pay with cryptocurrency is likely a scammer. Cryptocurrency payments do not come with legal protections and once sent, are almost impossible to recover. 
  • Report fraud. If you are contacted by anyone using the previous listed methods to pay or send money, please report the incident to FDACS online or by calling 1-800-HELP-FLA (1-800-FL-AYUDA).  Additionally, please report to the FTC at ftc.gov.

Most Common Financial Scams Targeting Seniors

According to the National Council on Aging, seniors are more susceptible to the following scams:

Government Imposter Scams: An imposter scammer pretends to be someone you trust, oftentimes a government agency like the Social Security Administration, or the Internal Revenue Service. The scammer can have a fake name or number show up on your caller ID to convince you. Often, they will inform you your Social Security or Medicare benefits are in danger if you do not pay a fee or provide identifying information.

  • Do not trust the phone number: Often scammers will spoof the phone number from a relevant agency.
  • How to proceed. If you or a family member divulged personal identifying information or initiated a payment, follow these steps to protect yourself from further harm.

Grandparent or Emergency Scams: Emergency scams usually target parents, grandparents, or other family members. In these instances, someone calls or sends a message claiming to be a child or grandchild in trouble or the friend of a family member who is in trouble and urges the targeted victim to wire money immediately to help with an emergency.

  • Validate before you send money. Confirm the person’s identity before taking any steps to help. Ask the person questions that only your loved ones would know and be able to answer.
  • Verify with others. Before you send any money, verify the story with someone else in your family or circle of friends.

Computer Tech Support Scams: Tech support scams rely on convincing you of a serious problem with your computer. In doing so, the scammers will sell you services to “repair” your computer or will request remote access allowing them to find personal information on your device. 

  • Consider who is calling. If you receive an unexpected phone call about your computer, hang up. Legitimate tech companies will not contact you by phone about a computer problem.
  • Do not call. If you see a pop-up window on your computer screen about potential threats, do not call the number. Real security warnings will never ask you to call a phone number.

Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams: There are many legitimate sweepstakes offered in Florida. Prizes in legitimate contests are awarded solely by chance, and contestants don’t have to pay a fee or buy something to enter or increase their odds of winning. In fraudulent schemes, “winners” almost always have to pay to enter a contest or collect their “prize.”

  • Verify the sweepstakes. Any sweepstakes offering prizes totaling more than $5,000 must file with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. This also applies to sweepstakes based in other states if they are conducted in Florida. Call 1-800-HELP-FLA (1-800-FL-AYUDA) to verify.  
  • Never pay money to receive money. No purchase or entry fee is required in legitimate sweepstakes. Legitimate sweepstakes also don’t require you to pay shipping or handling fees, insurance, or taxes to collect your prize.
  • Don’t be deceived by official looking mail. It is unlawful for a promoter to lie about an affiliation with or endorsement by a government agency or any other well-known organization.

Romance Scams. A romance scam occurs when a criminal creates a fake online identity and uses it to gain the affection and trust of a victim. In romance scams, also called confidence scams, the criminal deceives a victim into believing they have a trusted relationship and then uses the relationship to persuade the victim to give money, personal and financial information, or items of value to the scammer.

  • Consider what you post. Scammers can use details shared on social media and dating sites to better understand and target you.
  • Research the person. Look at photos and profiles using online searches to see if the image, name, or details have been used elsewhere.
  • Look for suspicious behavior. Actions such as promising to meet in person, yet always having an excuse why he or she can’t, or trying to isolate you from family and friends can be signs that you are communicating with a scammer.

What should consumers do?

  • File a consumer complaint: To file a complaint, complete FDACS’ online form or call 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) or 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832) en Español.
  • Share your story: Share your story with friends and family or on social media to help others avoid falling victim to similar scams.
  • Review our consumer resources: Consumers can find helpful tips and recourse on our website: FloridaConsumerHelp.com.

Background: FDACS Division of Consumer Services is Florida’s state consumer protection agency, responsible for regulating charities, handling consumer complaints, and protecting against unfair and unsafe business practices. The Division regulates businesses including motor vehicle repair shops, pawnbrokers, health studios, travel sellers, intrastate movers, professional surveyors and mappers, sweepstakes/game promotions, and telemarketers.

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5 tips for avoiding holiday scams as Brits hit by fraud lose average of £1,168


Airbnb and GetSafeOnline have shared top tips to avoid getting caught out by holiday scams as new research has unveiled which Brits are most vulnerable

Confused woman sitting on couch holds credit card use laptop looking at device screen
The average scam victim in the UK loses £1,168

Gen Z travellers are far more likely to fall for holiday scams than Baby Boomers, despite their reputation for computer savviness.

An eye watering 41% of Brits have either been impacted by fraud directly or know someone who has, with those hit losing an average of £1,168.

Behind stolen credit card details and phishing, holiday related fraud is the most common kind of swindling.

A fifth of Gen Z Brits – who were born between 1997 and 2012 – know someone who has been defrauded or have been defrauded themselves through a holiday scam, compared to 3% of Baby Boomers.

The data has been compiled by Airbnb and GetSafeOnline ahead of the summer holiday season getting into full swing.

Have you been the victim of a scam? Do you want to share your story? Email [email protected]







Holiday scams are a growing section of the fraud industry
(

Image:

Getty Images)

Amanda Cupples, Airbnb general manager for the UK and Northern Europe, said: “With significant demand for travel following the lifting of restrictions, we want to make sure these are trips to remember – but for all the right reasons.

“Airbnb uses sophisticated defences to keep bad actors off the platform, but it’s still possible to be caught out by scammers, which is why our work with Get Safe Online to equip people with the tools they need to keep their money safe remains so important.”

The companies have compiled a list of dos and don’ts for protecting yourself online when booking a holiday.

  1. Beware fake emails, websites, texts, and social media posts : Never click on links that you’re not expecting. These types of communications, which may have an urgent tone, can take you to seemingly authentic but fake websites, designed to either capture your personal information or infect your device with malicious software.
  2. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is: If you find accommodation on a third party website like a social media platform – especially if the deal or offer seems too good to be true – it could be a scammer. They may encourage you to pay via a direct method like a bank transfer, or through a fake website.
  3. Don’t rush in, and take time to carefully review the details: Scammers may try to pressure you to book quickly. Before you book a place to stay, read the profiles of hosts and listings thoroughly and check out the reviews and ratings left by other guests. You can also contact the Host to ask any questions before booking by using Airbnb’s secure messaging tool.
  4. Protect your account: Use a password that is different to those used on other platforms and email accounts.
  5. Don’t give a security pin to anyone : Only submit the security pin through the website or app.

In research conducted by the company by Opinium among 2,000 UK adults, the companies found that 30% of men are confident they’d never fall for a scam, compared to just 18% of women.

With strong pent-up demand for travel, scammers are exploiting new ways to target people.

Over half (51%) of Gen Z and 38% of Millennials would use a social media platform to search for accommodation, which has become a popular destination for scammers.

Yet 14% of Brits are unaware that scammers exploit fake social media accounts and fake online advertisements (15%).

Sign up to the Mirror’s travel newsletter for more holiday tips and news.

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Travel scams | Tips to avoid getting scammed on travel


ATLANTA — For many seniors, the travel doors are finally opening after extended COVID-19 isolation. But before you book, be careful.

Watch for phoney lookalike websites that closely resemble the real ones from airlines, travel companies and hotels.

Keep a close eye on emails offering free flights, discount travel packages, cheap vacation rentals or bogus travel insurance policies that guarantee COVID-19 coverage.

And never give out financial information unless you fully trust and know the source.

You can reach out to the AARP Fraud Watch Network for assistance — it’s completely free.



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BBB Tip: Avoiding travel scams while planning for spring break | Business


Spring break offers families and college students an opportunity to travel during a vacation from school. However, it also provides a chance for scammers to offer fraudulent vacation rentals, third-party booking sites and travel agencies designed to appeal to the consumer looking to getaway.

With spring break for many school districts occurring within the next month, many consumers are making their travel plans and finalizing payments, some of which will fall directly into the hands of con artists.

From February – March 31, 2021, U.S. consumers lost nearly $160,000 to travel scams at an average of almost $3,200 per report, according to data provided from BBB Scam Tracker. Scammers often take advantage of consumer habits and capitalize on trending internet searches, enticing consumers with great deals to popular destinations or all-inclusive packages. While these scams persist year-round, they often increase in frequency during periods of increased travel, such as spring break and the holiday or summer season.

So far this year, U.S. consumers have reported over $80,000 lost to travel scams – a 187% increase in monetary losses compared to the same period in 2021. According to reports on the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network, travel-related fraud cost U.S. consumers $74.7 million in losses and accounted for 27% of all fraud reported to the agency in the first three quarters of 2021.

“The best way to avoid falling for a travel scam is to begin planning early, so you are not rushing to make last-minute arrangements,” said Heather Massey, vice president of communications for Better Business Bureau serving the Heart of Texas. “Scammers capitalize on consumers who are in a hurry and may not have the time to verify they are booking with a legitimate location or business. Always verify and be sure to check for customer complaints or reviews on BBB.org.”

To assist consumers in identifying and avoiding the most common travel scams, BBB provides the following brief descriptions of the top five most-reported travel scams:

Vacation rental con.

  • 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.

“Free” vacation scams.

  • When a cruise or travel company advertises a vacation as “free,” it does not necessarily mean the trip is without cost or restrictions. Watch out for add-on fees for air transportation, port charges, taxes, tips and other undisclosed fees.
  • Hotel scams. When staying in a hotel, beware of scammers who use various techniques to obtain credit card information, including fake front desk calls, “free” wi-fi connections and fake food delivery.

Third-party booking site scams.

  • If you book your airfare, hotel or other travel through a third-party website, be sure to use caution. BBB Scam Tracker continues to receive reports of scammers pretending to be online airline ticket brokers. In the most common version of the scam, travelers pay with a credit card and, shortly after making the payment, receive a call from the company asking to verify name, address, banking information or other personal details – something a legitimate company would never do.

Timeshare reselling cons.

  • A timeshare owner looking to sell gets a call from someone claiming to be a real estate broker or agent. These scammers 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.

To avoid becoming a victim of a travel scam this spring break, Better Business Bureau recommends prospective travelers follow these guidelines:

Get trip details in writing.

  • Before making a final payment, get all the trip details in writing. Details should include the total cost, restrictions, cancellation penalties, and names of the airlines and hotels. Also, review and keep a copy of the airline’s and hotel’s cancellation and refund policies and the travel agency or booking site’s cancellation policies.

“Too good to be true” deals.

  • As is common in various scams, if the deal or discount seems to be too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers often use this tactic to lure in potential victims and use aggressive “limited time” language to entice travelers to pay before researching the business.

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 can be disputed and dramatically limits liability from a fraudulent purchase.

Call the rental owner.

  • If you are not using a service that verifies properties and owners, do not negotiate a rental solely by email. Many scammers don’t live locally. Speaking with the owner on the phone and asking detailed questions about the property and local attractions will clarify whether the listing is genuine. An owner with vague answers is a clear red flag.

Unsolicited offers.

  • Be particularly cautious if you “win” a free trip without entering a contest or sweepstakes. This is especially true if the offer is time-sensitive and requires the consumer to accept and pay for the offer immediately or risk it going to another “winner.” Check the official website of the company the offer is originating from to verify that it is legitimate.

For more tips on how to avoid travel scams, visit BBB.org/Travel.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of a travel scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker. Information provided could prevent another person from falling victim.





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British tourist warning: Holiday scams as criminals exploit the pandemic | Travel News | Travel


The GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card) was introduced to replace the EHIC after Brexit.

It is free and British tourists do not have to pay for one. Scammers have also been charging British tourists (£75) for passenger locator forms.

The compulsory forms are available on the UK Government website for free but some scam websites appeared higher in Google results than the official website.

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel said: “Criminals are exploiting the pandemic and the demand for holidays in a wide range of ways, laying new traps to trick unsuspecting travellers out of their money.





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