Americans are taking to the road and to the skies in droves in 2022, unleashing more than two years of pent-up travel demand. But few things can make that long-awaited trip go south like getting to your destination only to find out you’ve already been taken for a ride by vacation scammers. Their stock in trade is offering travel packages and rental properties at prices that are literally too good to be true.
Vacation rental scams
Rental scammers get your attention by advertising low, low rates and great amenities for houses, cottages and condos in choice locations. Even listings on reputable rental websites can be misleading or outright bogus. Some criminals hijack legitimate listings and swap in their own contact information; others use filched photos and made-up details to create fictitious listings.
They typically try to limit communication to email, close the deal quickly and get payment up front. Only when you arrive at your temporary home-away-from-home do you discover that the condition of the property was vastly overstated or the booking itself was fraudulent.
Car rental scams
Car rentals are another scam risk for bargain-hunting travelers. With prices sky-high amid a shortage of cars — major rental companies slashed their inventory during the pandemic — con artists are setting up phony websites and fake customer-service lines and advertising rock-bottom rates. They’ll insist you pay in advance, often by gift card or prepaid debit card, then leave you stranded before you even hit the road.