Tans & Scams: Spring Break Travel Scams

March 12, 2014

While we in San Diego have had one of the mildest “winters” in recent history, many other states with much less favorable climates are dreaming of packing up their bikinis and tanning lotions and heading out on a trip this spring break. Nearly 1.5 million students go on a spring break trip every year and collectively spend over $1 billion dollars on flights, hotels, car rentals and travel excursions. With so much money exchanging hands, it should come as no surprise that with the pool parties and cruises come a plethora of scams attempting to get a hold of a portion of said cash.

BBBs across the U.S. and Canada received more than 7,500 complaints against the travel industry last year, a slight increase from 2012. The most common complaints ranged from billing disputes, to advertising issues and misrepresentation.

Before setting out on your spring break getaway, BBB serving San Diego, Orange and Imperial Counties is offering the following tips to make sure your next vacation is an enjoyable and memorable one:

Book through a reliable travel agent: Before booking your next trip through an agent, check their Business Review on bbb.org. When selecting a BBB Accredited travel agent, you can rest assured that they advertise honestly, are transparent and honor any arrangements they make for your trip.

Get the details in writing: Confirm travel details such as total cost, extra fees, any applicable restrictions, flights, reservations and car rental information in writing before packing your bags. Leave a copy at home and bring extra copies with you on your trip, just in case.

Use a credit card as payment: Booking your trip and any amenities with a credit card offers the most protection, should something go wrong.

Consider travel insurance: Even though we make plans, unforeseen circumstances may come up and keep us from our next trip, force us to come home early or force us to seek medical treatment while traveling. For a little extra protection, consider travel insurance. Be sure to shop around and read the terms and conditions before purchasing.

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is: While we all would like to win a free cruise or trip to Europe, the likelihood of that happening is fairly slim – especially when the offer is unsolicited. Additionally, if a deal or package offers a lot at a low price, be wary. Unfortunately, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Use caution and call your local BBB to check on an offer before you offer up any personal information or form of payment.

If you believe you have encountered a travel scam, visit bbb.org or call your local BBB. For more scam alerts, travel tips and a complete list of reputable travel agents, hotels and more, visit bbb.org.