With the recession in its death throes (hopefully), travel has started to make a comeback. With travel comes travel scams and Kiplinger’s Cameron Huddleston takes a look at six travel scams you need to avoid. Sadly, many of these scams fall into the category of “too good to be true.”
Like the Nigerian prince looking to stash a few million dollars outside of his country, these scams are absurd. They prey on people who really should know better but don’t. Don’t be a sucker, if you’re going to fall for a scam, don’t let it be one of these.
Fake Airline Tickets
The scam involves a website or travel agency promising ridiculous prices for airfare and only accepting a cash payment or wired funds. If you’ve never dealt with a website or agency before, use a credit card. The credit card protects you against fraud. A deal isn’t a deal if it involves you getting ripped off.
Pay Now, Travel Later Clubs
Apparently you can join a club that lets you take future vacations if you pay an up front fee. Actually, many of those clubs are scams. It’s the idea of the timeshare extended to a broader class of vacations and unless you know someone who likes it, avoid them.
Travel Like a Travel Agent
This is a mail-order scam that basically says you can pretend to be a travel agent and book great trips on the cheap. They will charge you a fee to act as the “back-office” procession facility and you can buy discounted travel like an agent. They mail you an agent ID card and it all looks legitimate, except to airlines and hotels. Most agents don’t get discounts on airfare and it’s even harder with a fake ID.
No Ticket Event Packages
Your fraud radar has to be screaming at the title of this scam right? Basically a tour operator tells you tickets that they don’t have. Is there much else to be said about this scam? No tickets, no pay – it’s that simple.
Fake Travel Insurance
Anyone can sell you insurance, but unless they are licensed they are scams. Protection plans are only as good as the company selling them, so do your research and see if they are licensed. Kiplinger recommends checking out the US Travel Insurance Association and only dealing with companies on that list.
Isn’t it funny that a timeshare related scam made the list? Timeshares themselves are scams because 50%+ of the price goes towards marketing and sales. If you want to buy a timeshare, buy second hand. If you want to sell a timeshare, don’t pay a company an upfront fee to sell it because they may never sell it. Only pay a nominal listing fee or work with something like Craigslist. If you are really serious, read this primer on how to sell a timeshare.
There are plenty more travel scams out there and you will probably be taken by one of them… just don’t let it be one on this list.