You are not alone.
We are all tired of winter and want to go to some place warm for a week or more. Before you pay any money for your get-away, make sure you aren’t being scammed.
Check out some of the top signs of a possible travel scam by Mark Kahler at budgettravel.about.com/od/planningtoolsstrategies/tp/ten_scam.htm.
1. Advance payment is required without written contract. Make sure you have a contract that states the product(s) you are paying for.
2. Transactions by courier service rather than the post office. To avoid mail fraud statutes, some con artists will stay away from the post office.
3. Transaction can only be carried out by telephone. Hard to get a contract this way. Ask them why they are using just the telephone. You’ll probably get an evasive answer.
4. Offer is for a limited time only. True, you can get airline tickets for a limited time only. But, if they are saying pay now for a trip 60 days out, be suspicious. Sixty days is the time limit for disputing credit card charges at many banks.
5. A price far below market value. Why are you getting such a great deal on a trip they won’t make any money on? Won’t happen. Are there other charges they will add on? Will you be a target for a high-pressure sales pitch?
6. Offers to make you a “travel agent.” Some of the offers send you course materials. Others require a fee for “certification.” Both are a waste of money.
7. Hotel names, airlines or other vendors not disclosed in writing. That’s okay if you are using online companies such as Priceline and Hotwire as a vendor. Otherwise, do not do business with the “company” if they won’t disclose the name of the vendor you will be paying for.
8. Frequent use of words such as “complimentary” and “free.” What is the string attached? Find out, because there is one.
Don’t waste time and money because you didn’t take time to do your homework. Know what you are paying for. Have fun in the sun!
Do you have any other suggestions?