Vacation and Travel Scams
Vacation or travel scams include offers of free or deeply discounted travel deals that may never materialize. In some instances, businesses may provide vacation certificates with the goal of selling a specific product or service. These certificates may only cover a small portion of a vacation, such as providing lodging in a hotel or timeshare resort for only a certain number of days and nights. Other offers include airfare or a cruise, or provide one complimentary ticket with the purchase of a second. Some certificates include discount coupons for restaurants, tours or attractions in the resort area.
To receive this offer, consumers may have to make a purchase or attend a sales presentation. Companies may require a non-refundable processing and handling fee, or a refundable deposit of $50 to $100 to reserve a vacation offer (which won't be returned until after a vacation has been taken). Some deals are genuine, but nearly all involve fine print which makes the offer sound less "too good to be true" than upon first glance.
Instant travel offers. Companies may offer special discounted travel rates, but be aware that only suppliers of such travel services - like cruise lines, hotels, auto rental companies, airlines - can offer discounts to their services.
Demanding sales representatives. Representatives may try to elicit a credit card number or other financial information before explaining the conditions of their offer, saying they will use the information for "identification purposes." If a sales representative refuses to provide detailed information about the total cost of the travel offer without this financial information, this may result in misuse of your credit card.
Memberships or fees. Some companies may require you to become a member of a travel club or to pay an initial fee to claim a vacation or travel prize. Others may offer low airfare or other rates if you purchase the same ticket or service for a companion, at full price. These "full price" costs or other fees may be inflated, reducing the bargain of your travel deal.
Courier offers. Companies may require you to serve as a messenger or courier to deliver something on their behalf, which in reality may be the company's attempt to subvert U.S. postal authorities.
Before you commit to any travel or vacation deal of this nature:
Be sure to ask questions, such as: