How to avoid travel-related scams heading into summer

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How to avoid travel-related scams heading into summer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio has some tips for you to avoid travel scams that could spoil your travel plans if you are planning to get away in the near future.

“Travel scams account for about $150,000 of reported losses to the BBB in the last year,” said Lee Anne Lanigan with the BBB of Central Ohio.

Lanigan said scammers are always looking for ways to fool consumers — including through fake, third-party booking sites that look exactly like the real thing.

“We continue to receive imposter scams,” Lanigan said. “You think it’s Hilton, it’s not Hilton. You think it’s another brand name, it’s not.”

In the most common version of the scam, according to the BBB, travelers pay for a trip with a credit card. Shortly after, they get a call from the “company,” asking to verify their name, address, banking information or other personal details — something a legitimate company would never do.

“That’s a big red flag that you may be in trouble,” Lanigan said.

Another red flag, Lanigan said, are deals that are too good to be true. Scammers often use deep discounts or phrases — like “for a limited time” — to entice travelers to pay quickly before taking the time to do some research.

“Make sure that everything that they told you is who they are, and that it makes sense,” Lanigan said. “And once you’ve had a chance to do your research, if it’s a fantastic deal and if it’s the real company, by all means call them back.”

But before you make a payment to any travel service, get the details in writing. She said that will help you if you are unable to travel.

“Don’t just rely on something that someone on the phone told you,” Lanigan said. “All you’re going to be able to say is, ‘Well, I talked to somebody at your company who said I could get a refund.’ And then they will inevitably pull out a lot of paperwork where you signed off, and there’s nowhere in this paperwork that talks about a refund.”

Before you book a trip, Lanigan said it’s important to ask questions. Those might include:

  • Do I need an insurance policy?
  • If I need to cancel for any reason, is there a cancellation date?
  • If I do cancel, how much of my money am I going to get back?

When you pay, use a credit card. Credit cards offer more protections if something goes wrong, meaning more of a chance to get your money back.

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