Planning a trip this holiday season? Beware of an increase in travel scams

Published: Nov. 12, 2021 at 10:31 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - A warning for holiday travelers this year, the Better Business Bureau or BBB is saying travel scams will be popular this year due to high prices.

With vaccines available for adults and children, some families are feeling more comfortable about traveling.

However, if your plan is to rent a home or apartment this winter, experts are saying, do your research.

“A lot of times scammers will put up beautiful houses at incredible prices, with all sort of amenities, super close to, of course, the best locations in the area and you come to find out that the people who do own the property have no idea that it’s been listed,” said Britta Clark, director of communication at the BBB.

Clark adds, scammers will create a false sense of urgency, like saying another vacationer is interested in the rental to get payment.

Experts recommend to look up the address on Google Street View to make sure the property is really there. You can also use public records to confirm who owns the property.

Another common scam is third party bookings.

“It’s natural to want to look for the best deal you can possibly find,” said Clark. “We will give our card information to these third party booking sites and you can end up not only without a reservation in general, but you can end up in a worse place than you expected, you can end up not being able to get a refund.”

With a simple web search, you can make sure the website you’re using is legit. Remember a legitimate company will never call to verify name, address, banking information or any other details.

Ultimately, if it looks too good to be true, it may be.

When a cruise or travel company advertises a vacation as “free,” it does not necessarily mean the trip is without restrictions.

Watch out for add-on fees for air transportation, port charges, taxes, tips and other undisclosed fees.

“If you never signed up for a contest and suddenly you’ve won this amazing grand prize, that should be something that immediately strikes a red flag in you,” said Clark.

Historically, the BBB receives an influx of reports regarding travel scams around the holidays.

According to the organization, during the first six months of 2021, consumers lost over $370 thousand dollars to travel scams across the country.

Whether you’re buying online or planning a trip this season, the number one tip is to pay with a credit card, because it is much easier to get your money back than it is through cash, wire transfer, debit card, gift cards or cryptocurrency.

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