ROANOKE, Virginia (WFXR) – As spring approaches, many people plan vacations and other types of trips. However, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns that scammers often target people looking for deals online or last-minute travelers.
According to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Consumer Sentinel Network, consumers lost a total of $95.3 million to travel, vacation and timeshare scams in 2021. Of those who reported travel scams, 24% lost money, with a median loss of $1,112.
The BBB advises that every consumer planning to travel should be aware of the common vacation scams listed below:
- “Free” vacation scams: Consumers may receive phone calls, text messages or emails offering “free” vacations. However, when a vacation is advertised as “free”, it does not necessarily mean that the trip is completely free.
- Airline scams: Scammers can pay to advertise their fake phone numbers and spoofed websites to look like the real business. Scammers may also call the consumer, saying there has been a sudden price increase or some other charge and the consumer must pay the difference.
- Hotel scams: Travelers who have checked into a hotel may receive calls from the “front desk“, claiming that the travelers’ payment did not go through correctly. The scammer will then try to obtain the victim’s credit card information over the phone.
- Rental property and car scams: Websites can host fake listings of rental properties that scammers don’t own or don’t exist. Scammers can also impersonate car rental company websites and phone numbers.
- Wi-Fi “skimming”: Hackers set up free, unlocked Wi-Fi hotspots for unsuspecting travelers, but when travelers connect, hackers can gain access to their devices.
However, here are some simple tips to avoid the aforementioned scams and others like them on the go:
- Research and verify companies and businesses beforehand.
- Read any contract and its fine print.
- If the business or company calls you, hang up and call the official customer service number.
- Never give out your card information or bank details in an unsolicited phone call.
- Do not transfer money, use a prepaid card or use gift cards.
- Beware of additional and undisclosed fees.
- Set up personal and secure Wi-Fi hotspots.