Summer has officially arrived. The sun is shining, kids are out of school, and all of those well-needed vacations are on the horizon. In this week that we celebrate our national birthday, however — be sure to declare your independence from travel scams! Here’s some holiday advice from our friends at the Federal Trade Commission:
Always do your research
- Before booking through a travel agency or with a hotel, research the company. Look at its ratings and reviews. Do an internet search using the company’s name with words such as “scam,” “complaint,” or “review.”
- Get recommendations from family and friends.
- Pay attention to the fine print. Look for any extra costs such as amenity or facility fees, which can add big bucks onto what you thought was a deal.
- Bring copies of confirmation details, cancellation and refund policies, and other important documents that show the rates and amenities that you were promised at booking.
Don’t pay for “prize” vacations.
- Many people have received a phone call or email promising an “all-expense paid” vacation. Know before you go – is a timeshare that will require you to attend a sales presentation? Or is the company requiring you to pay a fee to receive your “free” trip?
- Don’t sign anything until you read and understand the terms and conditions associated with the deal. Scammers or even legitimate businesses who use high-pressure sales pitches may try to force you make a decision quickly. If they do, simply say no and walk away.
Always use your credit card
- When making purchases online or while traveling, use your credit card if possible. This will make it easier for you to dispute false or unauthorized charges, and it provides more protection than using cash or a debit card.
- When traveling, take only the IDs, credit cards, and documents that you will need. Always make copies and store them separately so if your documents get lost or stolen you will have backups.
If you have been the victim of an online fraud, report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov or call your local FBI office.