BBB Says Travel Scammers Can Damper Your Travel Plans

June 06, 2017

Thomas Johnson Director of Public and Board Relations, Better Business Bureau Serving,, 312-245-2643 


CHICAGO – June 06, 2017 – The official start to summer is just days away so it’s time to get those vacation plans wrapped up and start packing. Regardless of your destination, before you start relaxing Better Business Bureau recommends you shop smart for your travels. That’s the only way you can be sure to avoid a scam, score a good deal and enjoy a great trip.

“Everyone likes a deal but when it’s an offer for a “free vacation” put your guard up,” says Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Vacation scams surface in many ways, robo-calls, emails, texts, or pop up offers on your social media. You must be careful because that free or low-cost vacation can end up costing you more than you bargained for.”

Here are clues that signal – this may be a scam:

  • You’ve “won a free vacation” but you have to pay some fees first
    A legitimate company won’t ask you to pay for a prize. Any company trying to sell you on a “free” vacation will probably want something from you — taxes and fees, attendance at mandatory timeshare presentations, even pressure to buy “extras” or “add-ons” for the vacation, etc. Find out what your costs are before you agree to anything.
  • The prize company wants your credit card number
    Especially if they say it’s to “verify” your identity or your prize, don’t give it to them.
  • They cold-call, cold-text, or email you out of the blue
    Before you do business with any company you don’t know, check them out at
  • They don’t — or can’t — give you specifics
    They promise a stay at a “five-star” resort or a cruise on a “luxury” ship. The more vague the promises, the less likely they’ll be true. Ask for specifics, and get them in writing. Check out the resort’s address; look for photos of the ship, etc.
  • You’re pressured to sign up for a travel club for great deals on future vacations
    The pressure to sign up or miss out is a signal to walk away.
  • You get a robocall about it
    Robocalls from companies trying to sell you something are almost always illegal if you haven’t given the company written permission to call you. That’s true even if you haven’t signed up for the national Do Not Call Registry.

To avoid getting scammed:

  • Find a reputable travel professional  
    Ask family and friends about companies they use and visit the BBB website at
  • Call to verify your reservations and arrangements
    When you have the names, addresses, and phone numbers of the airlines, car rental companies, and hotels you’ll be using, confirm all arrangements yourself. If you have a problem and can’t get the help you need go elsewhere.
  • Pay by credit card
    It gives you more protection than paying by cash or check. If you don’t get what you paid for, you may be able to dispute the charges with your credit card company. However, don’t give your account number to any business until you’ve verified its reputation.
  • Consider using a travel app
    Travel apps can help you search for airfares and hotel rates.
  • Consider travel insurance
    Travel insurance can protect you in case there is a need to cancel.




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ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 167 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national and international programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation. BBB Serving Chicago and Northern Illinois serves 19 counties in Illinois.