Many people take vacation or visit family at this time of year. That’s the good news. The bad news is that there are a number of scams that unsuspecting travelers can fall victim to if they are not careful.
The New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA) offers these tips on how to avoid them:
When making any purchase, be suspicious of offers that sound too good to be true, and that’s certainly the case when making travel plans. Many con artists promise great vacations or airline deals for very low prices, and you should be especially wary of great deals advertised in unsolicited emails or faxes.
Before you book your trip, contact the sender and ask some tough questions. Find out what exactly is included in the bargain price, the names of the airlines or resorts involved and the full name and address of the company offering the deal. If the person you speak to is unwilling to answer these questions or gives vague or incomplete responses, then the offer is probably a scam.
Scrutinize “Free” Offers
Be particularly suspicious of promises of “free” travel, because it’s rare that a legitimate business will give away anything for nothing. You may find that the vacation is free only if you commit to making a costly additional purchase. Or you may be told that you must reveal your credit card number or other personal information in order to qualify for the deal.
Don’t do it, because the person asking for this information is probably an identity thief who will use the information to make unauthorized charges to your credit card or bank account.
Confirm the Details
Even when working with a reputable travel agent or resort, your dream vacation may not meet expectations. That’s why it’s important to confirm not only your reservation in advance, but also the details of the deal. You want to be sure not only that dates and locations are correct, but also that you agree on the terms and quality of your vacation. If the advertisement promises first-class accommodations, for example, find out exactly what that means so that you are not disappointed with your room or any other aspect of your stay.
You may be expecting a fancy suite with a view of the ocean, while the travel company is actually offering a relatively clean room overlooking a parking lot. Confirm every aspect of your trip, including car rental or special tour arrangements, to ensure the trip goes smoothly.
Get It in Writing
Ask the travel agent, or tour/resort operator for a document that describes every detail of your vacation they have arranged, then review the paperwork to ensure it includes all that you’re expecting. Also, check to see that it covers the company’s cancellation and refund policies, so you understand what your options are if your travel plans must be changed.
Pay with a Credit Card
If you are confident that you are dealing with a legitimate business, pay with a credit card. That’s because you may be able to challenge the charge with the credit card company if you feel you did not get what you paid for.
For more information on various personal financial matters, visit the NJSCPA’s public service website at www.MoneyMattersNJ.com. While visiting, you can subscribe to Your Money Matters, the NJSCPA’s free, monthly email newsletter to receive valuable personal financial planning advice throughout the year.
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