As Travel Returns, Be Aware of Vacation Scams

by Natasha Gabrielle | Updated July 21, 2021 - First published on June 1, 2021

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Don't fall victim to a vacation scam. These tips will help you avoid booking a trip that doesn't actually exist.

Now that travel is safer and more people are getting ready to book vacations, it's important to be aware of potential vacation scams. Unfortunately, fraud is on the rise, as scammers try to take advantage of people eager to get away.

If you fall for a scam, your personal finances could take a serious hit. Not only will you lose money, but you may be unable to afford the trip that you hoped to take. Check out the information below to learn more about how to protect yourself from a travel scam.

Scammers want your personal and payment information

During the pandemic, fraudsters are getting more creative and are finding ways to trick travelers. For example, the Better Business Bureau recently warned consumers about an airline booking scam involving fake airline customer service representatives stealing personal and payment information.

That's why, when you make a booking or change your reservations, always make sure that you're dealing with the official company and not a third-party company pretending to be another brand.

You should also be the one to reach out to the company yourself. Don't be eager to exchange information when you get a phone call, text, or email. Scammers may try to contact you about a reservation change that isn't real. They will then try to get important personal information from you as well as try to collect a payment. So always be on alert.

Luckily, there are ways to protect yourself.

Tips to avoid falling for travel scams

These tips can help you to stay alert and be aware of potential signs of scams.

  • Verify web address details. Don't just click on any link that you see. Instead, go to the official website before making a booking or giving personal information.
  • Be wary of brands that you don't know. You may see some brands that you've never heard of offering their services. While some smaller companies may be legit, it's common for scammers to make fake companies and websites to lure people into placing an order. If you make a reservation with a rental car company that doesn't exist, you'll lose money and be without a rental car when you need it.
  • Look for misspellings and other errors. When looking at any travel deals, look for misspellings and other mistakes. These errors usually mean that it's a scam.
  • Trust your intuition. If something feels off, it probably is. Listen to your intuition and don't make a travel booking or change a reservation if something feels off.

For better protection, pay with a credit card

When making any travel plans, it's a smart idea to pay with a credit card.

Using a credit card is an easy way to protect yourself. If you fall victim to a vacation scam, you can contact your credit card issuer to dispute the charge. To do this, call the number on the back of your credit card.

Avoid making bookings with a debit card. If you do, you could be without money for a long time. Your debit card is linked to your bank account, and banks have a longer and more complex dispute process, so you could be waiting a while to sort out the situation.

There are legitimate travel deals and vacation packages out there. Be sure to double check that what you're booking is the real deal. And if you're planning a trip soon, take a look at our list of best travel credit cards so you can earn rewards on your purchase.

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