Vacation Season is Almost Here. Be Smart When Booking!

Unless you are planning to visit relatives for your next vacation, you could be facing all kinds of challenges as you search for the best options. Travelers have thousands of websites at their disposal, but not all of them are offering a great deal. Some are out-and-out scams that will collect personal information for identity theft purposes. Others are real companies, but their offers may have all kinds of hidden fees, cancellation penalties, or other unpleasant surprises.

Another concern is membership-oriented travel options, which encourage you to join (with a membership fee, of course) in order to see the “members only” deals and deep discounts. Consumer Reports recently posted on their blog about vacation clubs and discount travel agencies, and they cited Better Business Bureau as a source for information on which companies should raise a red flag for would-be travelers.

CR pointed out two recent cases in which states took action against fraudulent companies. A Massachusetts lawsuit was filed by the Attorney General against a vacation club that offered “free” travel incentives but charged users huge fees to access their database of deals. In New Jersey, the AG sued a travel discount agency that charged users membership fees that ranged from $995 to a whooping $8,500!

A popular vacation scam is getting a call, postcard or email telling you that you’ve won a free vacation. When you call to confirm, you may be asked for your credit card number “for verification,” or to pay taxes on the prize.

Avoid these and other vacation headaches by being a smart planner. Check before you book, ask lots of questions, read the contract and all the fine print, make sure you understand exactly what you are getting.

Have a great trip!

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About Katherine Hutt

Katherine R. Hutt, Director of Communications and Media Relations with the Council of Better Business Bureaus, is an award-winning communicator who has been helping nonprofit organizations tell their stories for the past 25 years. She was a CBBB consultant on numerous projects for more than a decade before joining the staff in 2011.