Everyone is looking for a travel deal these days. But you need to be careful, as there are lots of ways to get scammed out there. The number one rule is if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Some travel agency scams seem to pop up every once in a while. Below are five of them and some tips to keep you and your travel dollars safe.
1. Have We Got a Deal for You
The number one rule about travel agency scams merits repeating: If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. You really do need to avoid incredible unsolicited travel deals offered by unfamiliar agents via email, bulk mail or over the phone. Unless you've worked with the agency before or can verify that it's reputable, you have to assume that the offers are most likely scams.
2. Credit Card Games
Be wary of agencies that don't accept credit cards. The first question is, "Why not?" More than likely it's a scam, since your credit card company will protect you from unscrupulous people. Tell such folks, "No card, no deal." You should also be wary of giving out credit card information to agents who call you. If you call them (after having researched them and gotten references, we hope) and are booking airfare, hotel, etc., you're probably safe. But if they call you with a "great deal," check them out before sharing any information.
3. Pay Now, Travel Later
Some nefarious travel agents and travel clubs require that you pay 60 days in advance of your trip. Sixty days is the amount of time you have to dispute a charge on a credit card statement (what a coincidence!). Do not agree to pay for anything so far out. Indeed, run away from any outfit using hard-sell tactics such as "this offer expires at midnight" or "this is the last time we'll offer these prices this year." In such instances, "limited" means the amount of time you'll have to investigate either the company or the offer.