We all think it won’t happen to us, but odds are at some point in time we will become a victim of a travel scam. It’s important to know the most common ways that thieves cheat you out of your money, but the fact is that these tricks are changing all the time. Take precautions and use your common sense to avoid having these things happen to you. Some of the most common scams are listed below with ways that you can avoid them.
1. Time Share Presentations- Chances are you’ve probably received an offer for a free or extremely cheap vacation. All you have to do is sit through a time share presentation with no obligation to buy. Although this sounds like a great offer, you need to know that this is high pressure selling. If your presenter is not able to convince you, be prepared for another hard sell from the “manager.” They are so skilled at what they do, many guests can’t resist and actually purchase the timeshare. Once you become the proud owner, you are often hit with high maintenance fees, condos that are oversold so you can’t ever use them, and various other troubles. It’s best not to put yourself into that situation.
2. Surprise Fees- This problem can occur in any area of the travel business. Hotels, resorts, and airlines quote ridiculously low fees and then add fees for things you would expect to be included. For example, one major airline is currently advertising a very low price for domestic flights from selected airports. The price first quoted is the fare and taxes, which they are required to reveal. However, as you go through the booking process, you will see that the fees are more than the fare itself. With the particular airline I just mentioned, checking one bag is $30 per person each way and a carry-on bag is $10 per person each way. When you get past that, you must spend more money for the ability to purchase your seat. If you choose not to purchase a preferred seat, you and the person traveling with you may not be seated together. Resorts will often charge a mandatory “resort fee” for the pool, gym, etc. even if you are not planning to use them. Question everything before you book, or call your travel agent to avoid this problem.
3. Rental Car Scams- Whenever you rent a car, make sure that you don’t drive it off the lot without inspecting it thoroughly. It would even be wise to make a few pictures of each side of the car for future reference, if needed. Some companies will count on you not completing that step and will find some kind of “damage” when the car is returned.
4. Fake Limo Service at the airport- There are many variations of this one, but usually you are approached by an individual at the airport who tells you that he has just gotten off duty, but could use the extra money. In most cases, you will get to your destination, but you will be given the “scenic route” so that your bill is much higher than necessary. In the worst cases, upon arrival the driver will demand a fee to get your luggage. In other words, your luggage is held hostage until you pay. The lesson to learn here is to never accept a ride with anyone except a licensed, metered cab or shuttle driver.
5. Hotel Front Desk Scam- This has been reported more and more frequently. This is usually how it works: When you’re in your room for the night, you get a call from someone who tells you they are calling from the front desk. They explain that there is a problem with some of your paperwork, and ask you if the last 4 digits of your credit card number are 1234. When you say no, they sound perplexed and ask if you can read the entire number to them. When you give out the information, they thank you and tell you everything is straightened out now. It was actually not the front desk at all, but someone who called the hotel and asked for a random room. This almost always happens late at night so that you are drowsy and not thinking clearly. If this happens to you, tell them that you never give your information over the phone and you will come down at a later time to speak with them.
There are many, many other scams that happen to tourists. Arm yourself with knowledge so that you won’t become a victim. Hopefully, none of these things will ever happen to you, but don’t let your guard down.