One of the biggest and longest running scams to date is the Vacation Fraud, where you or a loved one is told that they have won a free vacation package or a glamorous cruise getaway. If not totally "free", these "agents" say that they can get you that dream tour for a rock-bottom price. At this point, you, like many other law-abiding citizens start thinking "what could possibly go wrong?" A lot, apparently. The economy is bad and you are already hesitant to go away on vacation, yet you know the hazards of not taking that much needed time off. You book your trip, pay your deposit, hop on a flight, and your nightmare begins! According to the Department of Health and Human Services, consumers are defrauded out of millions of dollars every month by travel and vacation scams from various online companies like Pacific Dreams (Michael Cantrell - globalreppro). Let's just start with the obvious: you will not get a free vacation. Here are some of the scams used by these companies:
You are called and told you are getting a free vacation package but you must pay "fees" to reserve this opportunity. Then after you pay these fees, the "travel agency" can no longer be found. Their phone line has been disconnected and there is no way you can get your money back. Another variation of this scam is telling you that you've been booked on a luxurious vacation trip very cheaply, but this is only for a "limited time". You are then asked to pay a "reservation fee" immediately (and this is usually a big amount) to assure your slot. It's only after payment that the "travel agent" tells you that your vacation dates are not available or, after some time, will tell you that the offer has already "expired". Then the "Agent" also disappears, along with your money.
These scams are usually characterized by unrealistic low prices or free or exclusive offers. Scam-artists have many methods and techniques for depriving you of your hard earned money, but by becoming informed about how these scam-artists operate you can learn to identify when you may be getting set up and protect yourself. Here are three tips to help get you started.
1. Be aware of the buzzwords associated with travel and vacation scams. Offers filled with buzzwords such as free, guaranteed, you're eligible to win, vacation offer, you've just won, something for nothing, last chance, today only, and so on. Don't be seduced by the words, any offer that is good, valid and mutually beneficial doesn't need to seduce the consumer. A good offer only requires an explanation of how it works and why it is mutually beneficial.
2. Arrange your vacation trips through local, established businesses. As I said earlier, legitimate companies do provide discount vacation packages (as a result of a competitive market) and may very well offer a free vacation after so many bookings.
3. Get it in writing. The best way to verify the offer and your subsequent arrangements is to have the details in writing with the cancellation and refund policies of the company.
So long as you keep these three simple tips in mind you should have a fun and happy vacation. Enjoy your vacation and spend the time with your family and your friends and make sure that you get your well deserved break from work. enjoy!