As Summer Approaches it's Time to Make Sure You Don't Fall Victim to Travel Scams

April 20, 2017


Vancouver, BC – According to BBB’s new Risk Index, travel scams are one of the riskiest scams out there and they show up in a variety of ways. From vacation rental scams to fraudulent phone calls while you are at a hotel, scammers will stop at nothing to ruin your vacation plans. As summer approaches, many will start booking vacations now.

“Fake, private vacation rental listings have been an issue, even here in BC. We’ve had calls in the past from people who thought they had rented a nice place in Whistler only to find out it didn’t exist or never was for rent,” says Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC. “Typically a rental scam will involve a promise to send keys once you have wired cash. The information and pictures may have been ripped off from a legit ad and even placed in popular site like Air BnB.”

BBB offers these tips to avoid vacation rental scams:

Wiring money is the same as sending cash. If you wire money to a person you’ve never met, you have no way to trace it or get it back. If a property owner asks you to pay in full upfront and requires payment via MoneyGram, Western Union it could be a scam. Use a credit card through a payment system such as PayPal.
Don’t be rushed into a decision. If you receive an email pressuring you to make a decision on the spot for a rental, ignore it and move on.
If you can, meet the landlord. Be wary of nothing other than email correspondence, a scammer may insist on email only.
• The lower the price for a premium vacation property, the more likely it’s a scam. Rip-off artists love to attract people’s interest by offering below-market rent.
Get a copy of the contract before you send any deposit money. Check that the address of the property exists.
Do a search. See if the property shows up on other vacation rental sites. See if the property shows up on Google Earth Street View. Do a Reverse image search on Google to see if the images have been taken from another website.
The photography shows a perfect home. Don’t be fooled by photography. Scammers will post beautiful photos of homes and condos, some real and some fake. It may be a good idea to ask for additional photos — an honest landlord will always have them.

Not every traveler is interested in private rental properties. Like any other service provider you may hire, booking travel plans through a reputable travel agency can help ease any concerns about hopping around the world.

BBB travel tips:

Use a travel business you trust. Ask family and friends to recommend a business they’ve used and go to to see their BBB Business Profile.
Booking closer to your travel dates can increase cost. The earlier you can book, the better.
Get everything in writing. Get all the details of your vacation in writing, including travel itineraries, booking confirmations and vouchers. Get a copy of the business’s cancellation and refund policies.
Verify reservations. Get the contact information for the airlines, car rental companies, and hotels. Call to confirm all arrangements with them. Don’t only rely on the word of your agent.
Resort fees. Understand there may be extra, daily fees once you get to the hotel that covers things like facilities and wi-fi.
Consider travel insurance. Travel insurance is designed to cover such things as trip cancellations or medical emergencies. Ask a lot of questions, and see what is covered by always reading the fine print.
Pay with a credit card. Paying with a credit card gives you additional protection if something were to go wrong with the travel reservation.
Be alert for travel scams. Unsolicited mail, email, and websites offering deeply discounted travel packages could leave you out of a vacation and your money if you’re not careful. Watch out for scams saying that you have “won a trip.” If you’ve truly won something, it will be given to you as a gift. Be especially leery if the offer is unsolicited or if you haven’t entered a contest.
Front desk phone calls. If you are at a hotel and the front desk calls to report a problem with your credit card and they ask for the information over the phone, this could be a scam. Go down to the desk and speak to the concierge in person.


Media Contacts:

Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor
BBB Serving Mainland BC
404-788 Beatty Street
Vancouver, BC
V6B 2M1

About BBB:

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses and brands they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 365 million times for BBB Business Reviews, all available for free at BBB Serving Mainland B.C., founded in 1939 and serving the Lower Mainland, Thompson-Okanagan, Northern, Central and Southern Interior BC, and the Yukon, is one of 108 local, independent BBBs across North America. In 2016, consumers turned to BBB Serving Mainland B.C. more than 2 million times for Business Reviews and processed 6,000 complaints.