As you dream of summer fun, we are reminding consumers of vacation scams that can turn a dream vacation into a nightmare.
The BBB has tips for avoiding vacation scams:
Don’t believe everything that you see. The site may have the logo or design of a legitimate hotel or booking site, but that can be easily copied from the real website. Check out the company on bbb.org to see what others are saying.
Get everything in writing. Before providing any form of payment, get everything in writing. Make sure all verbal agreements are also provided in writing. Review all terms and conditions, taxes and fees, and cancellation policies.
Don’t pay upfront. Never pay upfront, or with a wire transfer or prepaid debit card for any vacation package or rental. Use a credit card or PayPal in case the charges need to be disputed.
Verify reservations. Follow-up directly with the airline, rental car company, hotel and/or cruise line to confirm arrangements have actually been made to your specifications. It may even be a good idea to search the web for the address of the vacation rental property or, if renting a home or condominium for a week, the place where you will be picking up the keys. Unfortunately, in some situations, victims of travel scams have discovered that reservations were never made and were provided fake confirmation numbers.
Look out for fake contact info. Some consumers report calling the 1-800 number posted on a scam hotel booking site to confirm its legitimacy. Scammers simply impersonated the front desk of the hotel.
Double check the URLs. Scammers pick URLs that look very similar to those of legitimate sites. Always be sure to double check the URL before making a purchase. Be wary of sites that have the brand name as a subdomain of another URL (i.e. brandname.scamwebsite.com), part of a longer URL (i.e. companynamebooking.com) or use an unconventional top level domain (brandwebsite.net or brandwebsite.co)
Look for a secure connection. Make sure your personal information is being transmitted securely by ensuring the web address starts with “HTTPS” and has a lock icon.
Watch for too-good-to-be-true deals. Be sure to comparison shop and be suspicious of a site that has prices significantly lower than those listed elsewhere.