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Are you one of those consumers that can’t pass up a good vacation deal? While some of these deals are legitimate and a great value for your buck, many others are deceptive offers posted by scammers posing as online travel agencies or homeowners renting a property that are really trying to take your money. And in return, you get nothing but frustration! Be a smart consumer and do your homework before you purchase your next ticket!

Here are a few tips that can help you prevent being scammed:

  • Research the company before you make your reservation(s) to verify that they are accredited and reputable. Websites such as the Better Business Bureau are a good place to start. Be sure to read ratings and reviews. If there are more negative reviews than positive, you may want to use a different company.
  • Don’t click on pop-up ads and avoid clicking links from emails you receive. Enter the company name into your web browser and find the website that way. And make sure your computer’s security features are up to date! They can help filter out scam emails and websites before you even click on them.
  • Is the business being upfront about their products, services, and prices? You should know exactly what you are paying for and how much it will be. If the company cannot answer basic questions about your itinerary, lodging, prices, etc. Walk away.
  • Read the fine print! Terms and conditions usually include mention of added fees and taxes that aren’t advertised in the low price.
  • Don’t be pressured into the purchase. Salespeople want to make a sale and travel prices can fluctuate so there is often an urgency to lock in the lowest price, but if the pressure to buy seems more than the normal course of business, be warned.
  • Get receipts for everything and use a credit card whenever possible. Credit cards have more consumer protections built in should something go wrong and receipts can be very helpful in proving your claims.
  • Confirm your airline and hotel accommodations yourself. A woman in Chicago recently realized she was out over $10,000 after a fake travel agency booked her flight tickets and took the money intended to pay for her cruise tickets and disappeared.
  • Consider travel insurance. But be cautious as some offers of travel insurance could be fake as well. Avoid offers that are advertised through blast faxes, spam e-mails, Internet pop-ups or signs posted on telephone poles, and those that cost significantly less than competitors.
  • Be wary of incredibly cheap offers. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
  • Book trips and rental properties through the company website and communicate using the company’s internal messaging or email system. If someone contacts you with an outside email or phone number, be suspicious.

For more information on avoiding travel scams, check out some of our other blogs:

Vacation Scams Are On The Rise, Here’s How To Avoid Them

Consumer Advisory: Vacation Rentals

Hotel Front Desk Scam

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s vehicular and customized wheelchair Lemon Laws and Arbitration Programs, Data Breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the MA Do Not Call Registry.

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