Beware of Spring Break Scams
March 20, 2014

Spring Break fun

Oakland, CA March 18, 2014 – Students eager to take time off from classes and to escape winter weather look forward to spring break. Their budgets are often limited, so they seek out deals on flights and accommodations. 

Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises students to be wary of travel deals that seem too good to be true. Parents and other relatives should be skeptical of calls purportedly coming from students stranded in distant locations, as scammers see the popularity of spring break trips as an opportunity to pull the so-called “grandparent scam.” Let people know where you will be staying and share your contact information in advance to avoid any confusion.

Many online sites offer deals on travel. Some are legitimate, while others may be scams. BBB advises students to deal with reputable sites when booking travel, checking a site’s reservation policies and other fine print before booking deals.  Package deals may be touted as all-inclusive, but be sure you understand exactly what is included.

Here are some BBB tips to avoid disappointment with travel deals:

  • Book through a reliable travel agent or travel site. Check its BBB Business Review at or find a BBB Accredited Business. Accredited Businesses must adhere to the BBB’s 8 standards of trust, requiring that they advertise honestly, be transparent, and honor promises.
  • Get details about your trip in writing. Be sure to confirm the details, such as total cost, any restrictions, flights, hotel reservations and car rental.
  • Pay with a credit card. Paying by credit card offers the most protection should something go wrong because you can challenge the charges.
  • Consider purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance provides coverage for particular perils which are specific conditions under which it will pay claims. Be sure to shop around and read the terms and conditions before purchasing.
  • Use caution when considering deals. If a deal or package offers a lot for a very low price, be wary. If something seems too good to be true, it usually is.
  • Be wary of claims you “won” a trip. Generally if you’ve truly won something, it will be given to you as a gift and there are no hidden fees. Be especially leery if the offer is unsolicited. Check on any offers with BBB.

Parents and other relatives should be aware of the grandparent scam, which usually starts with a call from someone claiming to be a person you know (often a child or grandchild) who is stranded or needs money to get out of jail or deal with another emergency. 

If you get such a call, resist any request to send money immediately. Ask for a phone number to contact the person back, then check with other relatives to determine the whereabouts of the person who is allegedly stranded. A request for you to send money by Western Union, MoneyGram or a prepaid card like Green Dot MoneyPak is often a scam. Do not transfer any money to people you don't know.


For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2012, consumers turned to BBB 124 million times for Business Reviews on more than 4.5 million companies and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at 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, free BBB Reliability ReportsTM on businesses and BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM on charities, 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, 113 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada. Please visit for more information.