Five Travel Scams to Look out for When Booking Your Spring Break Trip

February 22, 2016

Spring Break is just a few weeks away and consumers may be finalizing vacation plans. Whether your vacation destination is a tranquil week at the beach or a ride on the ski slopes, BBB recommends to do your research before booking your next vacation.

In 2015, BBB received more than 8,600 complaints against travel agencies and bureaus nationwide. Most of these complaints alleged people felt they recieved misleading travel offers that failed to deliver promises.

Better Business Bureau serving San Diego, Orange and Imperial Counties warns consumers about these travel scams before booking a getaway trip:

  • Pay Now, Travel Later. This scam demands payment up front for travel promised later. The idea is to lure consumers into a “club” or an advance payment that is supposed to guarantee huge travel discounts in the future. Many times, consumers buy in and when it comes time to book a vacation, they are met with barriers claiming, “sorry that week is already sold out,” or “we’re sold out of the low-priced options, but if you pay to upgrade, you can be accommodated immediately.” After booking, consumers are nickel-and-dimed with a laundry list of extras.
  • Fraudulent Vacation Packages. These bogus vacation packages can be offered through email, by phone, online and other various advertisements. It may offer an all-expense-paid trip or a “too good to be true” vacation package deal for a luxurious cruise or resort. However, when the deposit is paid, the victim is left with additional fees they were unaware of or the package had vague terms and conditions. For example, a hotel might offer a “pay 3 nights, stay 5” deal, but doesn’t clearly emphasize that you have to stay in particular accommodations, which may be much more expensive than explained in the offer.
  • Vacation Rental Scams. Typically can happen when searching for a rental on unsanctioned websites like The phony “renter” then contacts the victim who is interested and asks for the deposit to be wired. Unfortunately, when the victim arrives to the location, it turns out that it’s nowhere to be found, it’s actually not for sale, or it looks nothing like the picture online.
  • Accommodation Fraud. This type of scam can happen when you pay money to book a hotel, cabin, or any form of accommodation and find out that the reservation or residence doesn’t actually exist.
  • Fake Insurance. Untrustworthy travel agents may try to sell you “travel protection” in place of genuine insurance. If you are offered travel insurance, make sure the company is a licensed insurance underwriter or agency.

Before booking your next trip through an agent, check their Business Review on  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.