BBB shares how to avoid spring break vacation scams

The chilly, dreary weather may have prompt you to pack your bags and head to a sunny, warm location. The better business bureau is warning vacation goers to be watchful for potential scams. The BBB said people should double check their bookings on offers that look to good to be true.

Nichole Thomas, a spokesperson at the BBB, warns that a seemingly inexpensive trip could cost you a lot more than it would have before the “deal.”

“We rush directly to that low-price item and often times, it’s a scam. That’s how they lure you in.”

Thomas warns vacation goers of two types of scams from third party booking sites: the ‘good’ one that only takes your information, and the worst kind that takes your information, your money, and once you show up to your vacation, the room or rental isn’t even available for you.

“To think that now you have to do all these things in the back-end before you can give your family that experience is really sad, but it’s much more sad to show up to a condo and it’s already rented because you gave all your information to a scammer instead,” said Thomas.

Thomas said consumers can find a legitimate booking by picking up the phone and calling the source directly; many people only communicate via email.

The internet is a blessing and a curse: it’s easier for scammers to come up with new ways to take someone’s money, but it’s also easier to spot a scam.

Some scams can be deceptive because any person can create a website that looks legitimate—that’s why it’s important to look deeper when booking on unfamiliar sites. Incorrect grammar or spelling are a couple of the more obvious signs to look for when checking the legitimacy of a website. You can always check the owner of the site.

If visiting a different country, it’s recommended that guests stay at familiar, US-based hotels. If that’s not an option, always check look up the name of the hotel with the word ‘scam’ to see what others are saying.

“There are some things you can do as a consumer to protect yourself before you’ve made the purchase because once you put your credit card information in there, there’s no guarantee that you’re going to get your money back,” said Thomas.

Scamtracker on the BBB website not only allows you to spot scams in your area, but it also allows you to report scams to save other people before they get duped.

When you report a scam to the BBB, whether it’s a fake website, an incorrect phone number or a fake Airbnb listing, it’s recorded on this site for others to view.

Even if you don’t have a scam to report--you can check out scams reported in your area and even use the filter to find scams that could impact you and your family specifically.

You can read more details about various scams, like the amount of money lost, the accusation and the companies involved.

Like this one that reported a scammer got 400 dollars by posing as an airline.

To avoid falling to scams like this, you’ll be safest going directly to the source versus a third party.

“Check your sources before you put your money on the line…you really want to check the contact information, customer service information for any company that you’re doing business with,” Thomas warned. 

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