A scam travel agency recently tricked a group of Tennessee dance students out of more than $60,000 by charging for Disney tickets and hotel rooms that they never booked. The story serves as a cautionary tale for anyone planning a vacation to Walt Disney World or Disneyland. The popularity -- and price -- of a Disney vacation means that scams abound.
How the Scam Worked:
The students' dance school arranged a trip to Disney, where students would take classes with the theme park performers. The school selected a travel agency, and the dancers' families paid the for the trip.
The agency was supposed to book tickets, hotels and other arrangements. But when the families arrived in Orlando, they found that the shuttle info provided didn't work. Then, they got to the hotel to find they had no rooms reserved and no passes for the theme park.
A few parents stepped up and made sure the trip went on as planned. But the group is far from the only vacationers to have fallen for a scam concerning travel to Disney. See our tips below to learn how to spot a scam.
How to Avoid a Disney Vacation Scam:
Here's how to better plan your next Disney vacation. Remember that buying from a scammer may cost you more than just the price of the passes. The scammers may be using your personal information and credit card number for identity theft.
• Do your research:
Using a travel agency? Be sure to check them out on BBB.org
. Also, read reviews and scope out their social media accounts. Make sure you are dealing with an established, well-regarded business.
• Prices too good to be true? You know the saying: There is no way a Disney ticket dealer can offer authentic tickets at extremely low prices without losing money. If the prices are much lower than elsewhere, it's a scam.
• Pay with a credit card: The Tennessee dancers wrote checks to the scam travel agency. Pay with a credit card, so you can dispute the charges if the business doesn't come through. And be wary of anyone who doesn't accept credit cards.
• Avoid tickets sold on Craigslist and eBay: Scammers are skilled at providing realistic tickets and fake receipts. There's no way to know if the tickets are good in advance of your trip. You may arrive at the gate and be out of luck.
• Never buy partially used passes:
Not only is it illegal to sell partially used tickets, Disney uses a a finger scanning system
at the gate to ensure that multi-day tickets are used by the same person each time.
• Spot an authorized seller: Watch out for sites that use "Disney" in their web address or sell discounted single day passes. Disney forbids its authorized resellers to do these things, so both are warning signs of a scam.
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