Vacation season is heating up!
After a year that saw trips and plans cancelled due to the pandemic, many consumers are eager to get back on the road or in the air, but vacation-related scams are on the rise, with increasing reports of rental car and vacation home rental scams.
Here are tips to help you avoid fraud and safely book the vacation of your dreams.
Do Your Research
Before booking any trip, it is important to properly research the locations you’ll be visiting, how you’ll get there and where you’ll stay. Pandemic-related restrictions have only increased the need to research your destination before booking, and while planning the trip may not be the most fun part for some, it is key to ensure a safe vacation.
Only Book Through Reputable Companies
Once you’ve done the research on where you’re going and how you’ll get there, it’s time to book.
Not so fast! Before you book anything, it is important to remember to only book lodging, rental cars, plane tickets and more through trustworthy companies. If a deal seems too good to be true, it likely is.
Many scammers spoof legitimate vacation rentals, only for the renter to arrive and realize they didn’t book through the actual owner. If you’re booking through a website like AirBnB, ensure you read the reviews about the host and be cautious of booking a listing that was just added to the site or from a host with no history. It’s also important to only pay through the app or company website you’re using for booking and not to be lured into paying hosts directly if they offer “discounts.”
Reading the terms and conditions can seem like a drag, but it is an important step to take before booking. By carefully reviewing these details, you’ll have an opportunity to notice any potential red flags before processing your payment and it will give you a better idea of any fees you may incur for changes or cancellations.
Using a credit card to book your travel expenses is also a good idea, as federal law caps your liability when it comes to disputing fraudulent charges, and if you have a card with rewards, you can earn some future perks. Some companies, such as Visa, also offer fraud protection under certain conditions.
If all of this research and booking is overwhelming to you, it may make sense to use a travel agent for assistance. Just make sure you are using a trustworthy company to help do the booking for you.
Beware of Fake Websites and Phishing Schemes
It’s important to carefully review the websites you’re using for booking your trip to ensure they’re legitimate. Avoid clicking pop-ups and ads to get to booking sites, as scammers can use these ads to spoof legitimate websites in an effort to steal your information.
Take a careful look at the URL of the websites you visit. Other elements of the website that can tip you off to an imposter is if there are spelling or grammatical errors or if the colors don’t match the company’s standard ones.
Phishing scams have also risen rapidly in recent years, so it is important to never click suspicious links or provide any personal information over the phone.
Vacation should be a time to unwind and relax. By doing the right research and taking the necessary precautions, you’ll be ready to do just that this summer and make memories to last a lifetime.
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