Beware of Travel Scams This Spring Break

March 12, 2013

Beware of Travel Scams This Spring Break
Falling for deceptive travel deals could leave you broke, says BBB

DENVER – As spring approaches, students are booking spring break vacations and some are already planning graduation trips but the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns of several travel-scam red flags.

In 2012, airlines, hotels and travel agencies received more than 19,000 BBB complaints nationwide. According to the National Association of Attorneys General, travel scams cost consumers $12 billion annually.

“Travelers, especially high school and college students, should do their homework before booking trips and be cautious of deep discounts for eye-catching resorts,” said Su Hawk, president and CEO of the BBB of Denver/Boulder. “Use the BBB as a resource to find reputable companies in the travel industry and verify information.”

The BBB recommends paying for vacation costs by credit card for protection if something goes wrong. It may also be beneficial to purchase travel insurance to cover other potential problems with your trip.

The BBB suggests that travelers avoid these five red flags when booking trips:

  1. Heavily discounted offers - If the offer is significantly lower than the regular price of travel and sounds “too good to be true” it probably is. Be sure to shop around to evaluate prices from several companies.
  2. Policy changes - A company that will not accept credit card payments is preventing your best avenue of recourse should the company not fulfill their obligations; forcing you to pay by cash, check or wire transfer instead virtually eliminates your chances of canceling the transaction or obtaining a refund.
  3. "One call, one chance" - On the initial phone call, some high-pressure sales companies will put a deadline on their offer to try and get you to commit on the spot, saying that the offer will expire if you do not buy right away.
  4. Hidden costs. Does a “bargain” travel package include all costs associated with the trip, i.e., ground transportation, lodging, meals, port fees, taxes, peak season price increases, and gratuities?
  5. False bookings. Before traveling, confirm all arrangements yourself with the airline, cruise line, and/or hotel. Even though you have paid for the trip in full, it’s possible that your actual reservations don’t exist.

Also remember to not announce your vacation on public sites like Facebook and Twitter until after you return. If the information gets into the wrong hands, your home could become a target for burglars while you are gone.

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About the BBB

The BBB is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, BBB Business Reviews, BBB Charity Reports and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, your BBB also offers dispute resolution services for consumers and businesses. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, there are 114 local, independent BBBs across the U. S. and Canada. Please visit for more information.