These 5 Scams can Ruin Any Trip
Before and during a trip we all have to be on the alert. There are people looking to scam you before you even leave home. I have learned to constantly have my radar on high alert, prepared to ignore anything that sounds too good to be true. Seniors, according to AARP and other organizations, are preyed upon by scammers more than any other age group. Today, I will be sharing with you five scams that could ruin any vacation or weekend trip.
- TheTravel Club – ABC Travel calls asking you to join their” travel club” and receive a free trip. The fee to join their “club” can be minimal, maybe only $150, or it can be several thousand with an annual renewal of only $300. The first question is why pay for a “free trip”? A twist on this is the scammer will ask for a “deposit” to reserve your trip. Again, be wary. Either hang up immediately or ask for contact info so you can call them back after you check them out with the BBB or similar agency. Whatever you do, don’t give them your credit card number or other pertinent financial information.
- Become a Travel Agent– This sounds like a great way to save money on travel? After all, as a travel agent, you’ll be eligible to receive freebies, discounts, and commissions. So why not become one? Dozens of unscrupulous companies are out there waiting to take your money should you heed their ads. Once you’ve sent them the required fee, you’ll be sent documents stating you’re a bona fide travel agent. Now you are qualified to experience all the benefits of being a travel agent, maybe even make some money. Wrong. These mythical discounts and freebies no longer exist. Furthermore, in order to sell travel services and be recognized by a supplier, you need to be affiliated with either a travel agency or registered as an independent seller of those services with either the Cruise Lines International Association or the Airlines Reporting Corporation.
- The Taxi Driver– You’ve deboarded your plane and retrieved your luggage, almost immediately you are greeted in the terminal by someone offering their taxi service. Don’t go with them. If they aren’t at the stand and in a cab, chances are they are not legit. You’re only asking for trouble.
- Avoid Chaos– Avoid crowds or being jostled. You may also find yourself surrounded by children or adults waving newspapers or other objects. This is merely to distract and confuse you, blocking your view as they reach into your pocket or grab your bag. If this happens, firmly push through and quickly move away. If necessary, yell for help. Many people wear money belts to ensure pickpockets won’t steal their cash or passport.
- Hotel Booking Scam– While there are several hotel scams, one of the most prevalent is booking through a third-party website. They may look legitimate, have an official looking site and an 800 number for Hilton.reservations.com, but they aren’t always legit. Upon arrival, you find that there is no reservation and your credit card has been charged.
Travel detective Peter Greenberg recommends you deal with only well-known vendors like Kayak or Orbitz. He also suggests calling the hotel directly to verify the rate, maybe even save some money by cutting out the third party. Establishing this line of communication is essential to ensuring your peace of mind and getting what you want.
There are, obviously, many more scams to be aware of. These are just a few. For example, Globe Spots lists on their site, https://www.globespots.com/travel-scams, 28 scams. I’ve barely scratched the surface. Like any other endeavor, it’s a good idea to always do some research. Jeremy Gin, founder, and CEO of SiteJabber has, from community members, reviews of over 55,000 businesses, stating who gave great or poor service. Business News Daily has listed online 14 sites to look for reviews. Included are: the BBB, Consumer Affairs, OpenTable, Planet Rate, Four Square, Expresit and the FTC.
I don’t know how much I’ve helped, but I hope you’re a bit more prepared before your next trip. The two biggest takeaways here may be: do business with people and companies you already know and before ever paying for anything do your due diligence. Hope you enjoy your next trip with greater peace of mind