By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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ROCKFORD — The Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau is warning travelers to be cautions of scams this holiday season.
The bureau says promises of free or low-cost vacations should be met with skepticism. You may end up paying hidden fees or worse: After you you pay, you could learn there is no vacation at all.
“Being a bargain hunter is wise, but being careful is smarter when there could be thousands of dollars on the line,” Dennis Horton, director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau, said in a news release.
There are several common travel scams to watch out for, Horton said.
“Travelers should be leery of free vacation offers, robocalls offering vacation deals at discounted prices, vacation home scams – where the scammer hijacks real rental listings and advertises them as
their own, or they make up listings that don’t exist, and fake charter flights that may
include lodging and sightseeing,” he said. “After you pay for the package, you find it’s all a scam.”
Here are the warning signs the Better Business Bureau says to watch for to identify a scam.
• A “free” vacation that you have to pay for. Scammers often try to get your
attention by saying you won something, but then making you pay to get it.
• No specific details about the travel offer. Beware if the offer says you’ll stay at a “five-star” resort or go on a cruise on a “luxury” ship, but the organizer can’t give you the hotel name or cruise company.
• The only way to pay is by wire transfer, gift card or cryptocurrency. This is how scammers often ask you to pay because once they’ve collected the money, it’s almost impossible to get it back.
• They pressure you to make a quick decision about a vacation package or rental. If
someone says you have to decide right away, don’t do it. Scammers want to rush you. So move
on and find another option.
• Premium vacation properties are advertised for super cheap prices. Below market rent can be a sign of a scam. Do some extra research to confirm the deal.
3 ways to avoid travel scams
Here’s the Better Business Bureau’s three tips to avoid being scammed:
1. Don’t sign or pay until you know the terms of the deal. Get a copy of the
cancellation and refund policies before you pay. If you can’t get those details,
walk away. Say “no thanks” to anyone who tries to rush you without giving you
time to consider the offer.
2. Do your research. Visit bbb.org to look up travel companies, hotels, rentals and
agents. Online search with the words “scam,” “review,” or “complaint.” See what
others say about them before you commit. Also, check if the address of the
property exists. If it is located in a resort, call the front desk and confirm their location and other details.
3. Don’t pay with wire transfers, gift cards, or cryptocurrency.
Source: Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau