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Top 5 travel scams
Insider tips on how to avoid being a victim
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Scams are all around us and unfortunately, travel scams tend to be near the top of the heap. It seems that for every legitimate travel offer there is one that isn’t.
With teams using more than 100 unique apparatuses to launch globular projectiles a half-mile or more, the 27th annual World Championship Punkin Chunkin event is our pick as November’s Weird Festival of the Month.
According to the National Fraud Information Center, the average loss to fraud in 2004 was $803 per incident — up from $468 two years before. While travel is not at the top of the fraud list (that is reserved for online auctions), it is number two in frequency of complaints. Be sure to steer clear of the folks who are only out to separate you from your travel money.
Don’t be a victim of these 5 top travel scams.
1. Discount travel clubs
Usually a bad idea. If your travel club is asking for more than a few dollars for membership, they are probably scamming you. They will offer a discounted menu of trips (of course it is discounted — they said so didn’t they?), only available to members. For this membership, you get the privilege of booking the trip, probably a substandard product and a newsletter. They get your money plus the commission paid by the travel supplier. It’s a great asset to anyone’s cash flow. Travel clubs should be geared towards social engagement and any dues or membership paid should be reasonable and cover only the true costs.
2. Become a travel agent
This is a scam that is running rampant now. Once you pay a fee to a company, it will issue “credentials” allowing you access to travel agent freebies and discounts and commissions on selling travel. First off, the days of freebies and discounts are done — trust me, they are few and far between. Secondly, in order to sell travel and be recognized by a supplier, you need to be affiliated with either a travel agency or be registered as an independent seller of travel with either the Cruise Lines International Association or the Airlines Reporting Corporation. Believe me, this is a perfect example of the old axiom, “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
3. Deceptive pricing
Know the real price. Know the final price. Look at any major airline ad and you will see their too good to be true fares. The problem is the fine print. The ads are for a one way fare based on round trip purchases. Presto, your cost has doubled. It seems the airlines are more adept at creative pricing than flying their own planes. From frequent flier redemption to unavailable seats, to bogus two-for-one offers, they know all the tricks. But be careful, while the airlines are masters of this scam, they do not have a patent on the practice. Be sure you read all of the fine print before you hand over the credit card or click on the “buy” button.
People marketing timeshares are slick. They are not afraid to lie, cheat, or steal to make a sale. Most timeshare offers are made while you are already on vacation and your guard is down, but many are from contest entry forms where you fill out a form while waiting for your Chinese take-out. Very simply, never agree to a meeting or a presentation. Ask that any information be sent to you. Once in a presentation, you have put yourself in physical and fiscal danger. A client of ours just returned from Mexico where he thought he agreed to extend his stay to try out a timeshare. When he returned, he found that his credit card had been charged $37,000 and he was a proud new owner of a timeshare — Spanish contracts tend to be confusing if you are not fluent in the language.