Vacation deals are easier than ever to find but one wrong click online could buy you a ticket to nowhere. Here’s a roadmap to the top three ripoffs.
Rental ruse: There are so many wonderful ways scammers can sell you a fake vacation rental! Sometimes they hijack real listings, changing the contact information and placing the property on another site. Other times, they just manufacture a unit that doesn’t exist. Either way, never wire any of them money; not for a security deposit, not for the first night or week, not because this is the only place that allows Fluffy the Dog, not for any reason at all. Wiring money is the same as handing over cash. Don’t send money before signing a lease, either and certainly don’t send it out of the country to an agent who says that a third party will get you the keys. Your best bet: Pay with a credit card or through a reputable vacation rental website with its own payment system.
Charter Travel Tricks: People have paid for packages that don’t exist. Here’s how to make sure your does. First, know that charter flights are required by law to register with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s so check its list of approved public charters. Make sure you pay by check to an escrow account, that’s also the law. And check out your operator to make sure it’s legit. Regardless, you can expect delays, the Transportation Department allows flights to be 48 hours late and the company doesn’t have to compensate you for anything.
Dummy Docs: Don’t be fooled by a picture of a flag, the Capitol or even a phony seal – because our very own State Department says fraudsters are pretending to have the authority to issue visas for a fee but rest assured, they’re fake. They scam you out of money and maybe even your entire vacation. If you need official papers start at the STATE DEPARTMENT for dealing with a legitimate government.