Popular tourist destinations are bustling during the summer months with tourists and likely a few scammers too. Better Business Bureau® Serving Eastern Oklahoma urges travelers to be on the lookout for these vacation scams.
1) Aggressive Pitches: Often vacationers are offered a free service in exchange for sitting through a short presentation. Presentations pitching timeshares or other investment "opportunities" may sound great but often come with costly hidden fees or other undisclosed obstacles. Always take the time to review and research purchases like these. Search the companies at https://www.bbb.org/tulsa/ to read reviews and history of complaints. It's best to walk away if the salesperson refuses to take no for an answer.
2) Bogus Restaurant Menus: If you get hungry late at night, finding a menu slipped under your hotel room door may seem like a stroke of luck but it could be very unlucky if it belongs to a non-existent restaurant. Some scammers are getting creative and printing out convincing menus. When you place your order and pay with your credit card over the phone, you may get more than what you paid for yet never receive your food. Do yourself a favor and look up restaurant reviews before placing an order and ensuring the number given on the menu is the restaurant's actual phone number.
3) Counterfeit Tickets: Waiting to purchase tickets for a popular museum or amusement parks can include a long wait in line and steep prices. Scammers offer tourists enticing ticket deals at lower prices and help them avoid the line. Unfortunately, these tickets often end up being fake. Be sure you're purchasing tickets from trustworthy vendors. For more BBB® Tips on identifying reliable sellers click here.
4) “Free” Entertainment: Remember free means free. Often scammers will claim they need money for a reservation deposit, taxes or fees but there should be no charge. BBB Code of Business Practices urges all businesses to “make known all material facts in both written and verbal representations, remembering that misrepresentation may result not only from direct statements but by omitting or obscuring relevant facts.”
5) Enter to Win Raffles: While the likelihood of winning a raffle isn’t very high the chance of receiving endless amounts of spam after sharing your personal information is. These free to enter raffles often come for the price of information like your phone number, mailing address, and email. Handing over this information should be carefully considered as it can lead to unwanted junk mail, endless emails or robocalls.
6) Help with Photos: If you're visiting an area with a well-known landmark or monument you're likely going to take a picture. Scammers posing as well meaning strangers offer to take a photo of your entire group. Nice right? Maybe not. Some scammers will take off with your expensive camera which they can resell later or your cell phone filled with personal information and images. Other scammers will insist you give them a few dollars for their service some may even hold onto your phone until money is handed over. Look for other tourist families or groups taking similar pictures. Offer to take their photo in exchange for them taking yours. BBB encourages travelers to review BBB Scam Tracker for the latest scams happening near their destination.
Always do your research while planning a trip. Visit bbb.org/tulsa to read business reviews before making reservations or spending your money at any establishment. If you do come across a scammer, be a hero and report it to BBB Scam Tracker to help keep others safe.
BBB is sharing more advice on staying safe from scammers while on vacation all month long.