Everyone wants to take a vacation or go on holiday. That’s how and why vacation and holiday scams can easily take advantage of you.
When you’re involved with entire industries that are unfamiliar to you, that you never deal with otherwise, it’s hard to know what’s considered normal or acceptable. And when you’re away from home, you often let your guard down, not to mention the unfamiliar environment and possible cultural differences. If so, you could wind up as a victim of vacation and holiday scams.
Timeshares have become notorious for all sorts of shady business practices. It usually starts with an invitation to a conference that includes a few free goodies. Maybe just dinner, or at best a weekend getaway. But once you’re there, you quickly get the idea that you have agreed to be held captive to an incessant barrage of high-pressure sales tactics with only one goal in mind: buy that timeshare! You extricate yourself from the first agent, and there’s another one just waiting to take over. It’s all carefully planned out, and before you know it, you’re stuck with partial ownership of a vacation home. You may be surprised afterwards to learn how unpleasant the fine print can be, including high maintenance fees that keep getting higher.
Once you’ve had enough, you may find that a whole new system exists to victimize you a second time. Selling your timeshare is no easy task, especially if you don’t have any high-pressure conferences at your disposal. So you may be contacted by a scammer promising a quick and profitable sale. All you have to do is pay some upfront fees. Once you do, the scammer disappears.
Fake vacation packages
You find an offer for a getaway that’s significantly cheaper than everyone else’s. The details might be a little vague, but the promises are certainly bold and inviting. You might feel a little hesitant about the required payment method: something hard to trace or recover, such as a bank wire transfer, rather than a credit card or PayPal. But the scammer overcomes your objections with an appeal to urgency. This amazing deal will disappear if you fail to act right away. You wouldn’t want to pay much, much more, would you? So you pay, and then when you arrive, you find that the property doesn’t exist, or the vacation is far less appealing than you were led to believe. And now that you wired your money, good luck getting it back.
By the way, scammers also go on vacations and holidays. And when they do they are known to take the opportunity to bite the hand that feeds them. One game being played is turning off the WiFi in an accommodation ordered through Airbnb. They then complain to Airbnb that the WiFi was not provided as contracted and receive a retroactive 25% discount on the cost of the entire reservation or $50 per day, at the host’s expense.
This scam is often perpetrated against victims looking for airline tickets, or tickets to popular performances such as concerts or sporting events. The more popular they are, the more prone they will be to fraudsters taking advantage of the limited supply to trick you into handing over your money for a supposed opportunity. The prices will either be much lower or much higher than retail, and once again they will demand payment in some sort of difficult to track and recover method. Once you arrive at the gate, after the money is long gone, you’ll find out that the tickets you thought you bought are phony.
There are a number of strategies you can use to avoid falling for common vacation and holiday scams:
- Take your time! Don’t let yourself be pressured into making a decision quickly. Decisions made in haste will tend to work against you in the long run, and the scammers know this.
- Do your research! Look up the company you’re dealing with independently. Check out their online reputation. Search for complaints.
- Pay smart! Never agree to pay for any vacation service by bank wire transfer, cash, gift cards, or any other unusual payment method. Credit cards and e-wallets such as PayPal give the best protection against fraud.
- Keep it real! Only buy tickets from authorized dealers or resellers.
Finally, be aware that vacation and holiday scammers remain active even when it’s not travel season. That’s true even though it’s counterintuitive. But it was proven during the COVID-19 pandemic. The year 2020 was characterized by closures of hotels and resorts, cancellations of flights and cruises and, in most jurisdictions, calls to remain at home and not to travel. Despite all that, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) still documented over 5,000 complaints that year from the public about travel scams. These scams, moreover, were responsible for more than over $8 million in losses. Instead of packing up and going somewhere else, the operators of travel and holiday scams simply innovated. For example, they began to offer fake COVID-19 travel insurance.
If you think you’ve been the victim of a vacation scam or holiday scam, contact the fund recovery experts at MyChargeBack.