With Spring break just around the corner, millions of Americans are gearing up to go away for a much-needed vacation. After the cold temperatures recently, many people understandably are itching to get away somewhere warm for a week or two of relaxation.
For those who have already booked their trips, they can sit back and count down the days until their trip. For those who haven’t, then the last-minute panic of getting something booked is likely just kicking in.
For those travelers, the Better Busine Bureau (BBB) is warning them to be vigilant when steering clear of online scams. Criminals often target spring break as a time when they can scam eager tourists out of their hard-earned cash by promising them discounted and/or free vacations.
According to the BBB’s data, in February and March, two years ago, U.S. consumers lost around $160,000 to travel scams at an average of around $3200 per customer. Considering this data was obtained at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, this figure could be even higher now that most restrictions worldwide have been scrapped.
With more people now keen to travel again as the world comes out to the other side of the pandemic, the BBB is offering some important advice to those looking to book a vacation soon.
How Scammers Take Advantage of Consumers
Scammers get the upper hand on those looking to book a vacation through thorough research. They find out what is trending on internet searches and create pop-ups, fake websites, fake emails, and fake social media accounts to entice consumers to their “amazing offers.”
They will find out where people want to go and take it from there. For spring breakers, therefore, popular destinations such as Cancun and Miami are targeted by these online scam artists.
While these scams are typically active all year round, their prevalence becomes more obvious during high-demand seasons such as spring break, summer, and Christmas.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), travel-related fraud cost Americans over $70m last year. More than one in four cases of fraud reported to the agency last were related to travel, just showing how targeted this sector has become ever since travel agents were ditched in favor of online bookings.
As a result, the BBB is understandably keen to ensure fewer people are impacted by this serious level of deception this year. They have therefore released the following advice to give consumers the best chance possible of avoiding it:
BBB’s Key Advice
- Plan ahead and research hotels, flights, and activities thoroughly.
- Avoid broad internet searches. Putting phrases such as “cheap deals” into Google is what these scammers want, and you’ll be opening yourself up to this part of the internet via these types of searches.
- Don’t trust phone calls or letters offering you a “free trip.”
- Use travel agents or websites you have used in the past or recommended to you by people you trust.
- Pay with a credit card, as they provide an extra layer of protection should anything go wrong.
- If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
This article was produced and syndicated by The Impulse Traveler.