On Monday, Aug. 21 a total solar eclipse will cut a path through Missouri. The Missouri Division of Tourism estimates that between 320,000 and 1.3 million national and international tourists may arrive in local cities and counties to view the event. Unfortunately, this spectacle also has the potential to attract scammers poised to take advantage of eager sightseers looking for lodging or purchasing solar eclipse glasses.
Sightseers should be wary of being sold imitation solar eclipse glasses. Glasses should be checked for certification information before purchase. Legitimate glasses will have a designated ISO 12312-2 international standard.
The manufacturer’s name and address should be printed on the glasses. Do not use regular sunglasses or eclipse glasses that are damaged or expired. NASA recommends buying glasses from one of these five vetted manufacturers: American Paper Optics, Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold film only), Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical or TSE 17.
“Travelers should take extra precaution when searching for vacation rentals in close proximity to eclipse viewing sites,” said Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO. “Fraudulent scammers won’t be above taking advantage of this rare event.”
BBB’s Scam Tracker took 299 local reports of travel and vacation scams last year. Nationally, consumers reported losses of $305,366 or an average loss of more than $465 each. Rental scammers may create online listings with photos of homes that aren’t available or are owned by someone else. Phony landlords collect an advance deposit, then avoid contact with renters, who may be left with nothing but a fake reservation or a rental that doesn’t resemble the photos in the online listing.
Some warning signs of a scam include difficulty communicating with the landlord. Be skeptical if they ask to communicate only by email or don’t list a phone number or a physical address. If the landlord claims to be out of the country, that also can be a red flag. A request that you pay using a wire transfer or prepaid money card is a likely sign of a scam.
BBB recommendations for travelers include:
St. Louis Area Media Contacts: Chris Thetford, Vice President-Communications, (314) 584-6743 or (314) 681-4719 (cell), email@example.com
Shellie Kreter, PR & Communications Manager, (314) 584-6723 or (314) 348-5451 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org
Columbia media contact: Sean Spence, Columbia Regional Director, (573) 886-8965, email@example.com
Cape Girardeau media contact: Joey Keys, Cape Girardeau Regional Director, (573) 803-3191, firstname.lastname@example.org
Quincy media contact: Mara Clingingsmith, BBB Quincy Regional Director, (217) 209-3972 or (217) 242-6272 (cell), email@example.com
Springfield media contact: Chris Thetford, Vice President-Communications, 888-996-3887,firstname.lastname@example.org
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