Would you love to take a trip to a dream destination and not have to pay very much for all of your expenses? Most people certainly would, and that is why travel agency scams are so popular these days. There are many forms for travel agent fraud out there, and knowing when a deal is real or just a scam will help save you money and headaches. Many travel agency scam offers come in the form of email or postcard discounts that say you can get incredible discounts on vacations. Although sometimes these offers are legit, some are just a travel agency scammer looking to steal your money or to make you pay way more than you expected once you are on your vacation. To avoid becoming a victim of travel agency scams, here are a few things to keep in mind.
How are you expected to pay, and how much in advance is the money due before the trip? Always pay with a credit card so if the deal is a scam, you can dispute the charges and hopefully get all your money back. Some of the scam artists will ask that you pay with a money order, and you will not be able to get the money back. Also, look out for deals that have to bought right away, especially when the trip is longer than 60 days away. For many credit card companies, the maximum time that a chargeback can be made is 60 days. The con artist will then be able to keep the money, and there is little you can do about it. Make sure that you are not pressured into giving out your credit card number in order to reserve a price. Even legit agencies will say that there is only a certain amount of time for you to lock in your low prices, but it should never be immediately. Some crooks are very slick, and will spend time on the phone with you trying to gain your trust. They will then suggest that you go ahead and give them your credit card information over the phone so that you do not miss out on such an amazing deal. You should never pay without a contract or written agreement of what the trip and price entails.
Before making any payments, it would be smart to do your homework. Make sure that the travel agency does in fact exist. All legitimate travel agencies are part of an organization called ASTA. Calling or visiting their website will verify whether they are a company or not. Be sure to ask for a full list of details about the vacation, discounts, and fees. If you are dealing with a travel agency scam, they are not going to tell you everything, but a real company will be more than happy to inform you of everything you need and want to know. Read all the fine print as well. Sometimes the scam will send you away on your trip, but there will be an excessive amount of restrictions and stipulations. For example, you may have to attend a 5 hour timeshare seminar, or pay triple for a another person to join you on your trip. Other times, the fine print will state that your airfare price is only for a one way ticket, or your hotel is located outside the tourist area that you are wanting to visit. Be sure that you are told what airline you will be using, what hotel you will be staying at, and the name of any other place that reservations will have to made prior to your vacation. If you do decide to take the deal, and pay for the trip, get everything in writing and confirm their agency status with ASTA. Be sure that all the reservations have been made, especially for those 60 days in advance payments. That way if it is a travel agency scam, you can quickly get your money back.
There are other forms of the travel agent fraud to look out for including the offer to become a travel agent. What you will be told is that if you become a “certified travel agent”, then you will be eligible to receive elite discounts and deals that only agents are able to get. Generally, they will tell you to send them some money, and then your certification will be mailed. Some even go as far as to have you take a test after sending you training information. You have to work for a credible travel agency in order to become a travel agent, and not just have a ‘certificate’ hanging on your wall. This travel agent fraud is becoming very popular and is very easy to fall for, but is in no way legit.
Of course, you would love to spend a week in paradise for just a few hundred dollars, but unfortunately it still costs more than that, and anyone claiming that it does not, is probably just trying to steal your money.