March 2019 - How to Plan Your Next Vacation Safely

Beach, Towel and Sandals Spring’s almost here – soon it will be time to shed the heavy coats and sweaters, put away the snow shovels and turn your thoughts to vacation. When making your plans this year, be careful not to fall victim to vacation scams. There are several out there:

Fake Giveaways on Social Media: Be wary of social media posts offering free travel or accommodations in exchange for simply liking or sharing a particular page. Chances are good these pages are only set up to collect personal information which can be sold or used in identity fraud.

Vacation-Related Ponzi Schemes: These are where you’re asked to attend a presentation at your own expense and, once there, are encouraged to pay up front for an expensive vacation that never happens. Your best defense: refuse the invitation and, since senior citizens are often targets of this scheme, encourage your older relatives to do likewise.

Fake Booking Sites: These sites are run by people offering to make all your arrangements for you – from hotel rooms to event tickets – and, instead of following through, they take your money and run. The sad part is victims often don’t discover they’ve been scammed until they show up and realize no reservations have been made in their names.

Timeshare and Vacation Rentals: When booking these accommodations, make sure you’re dealing with the actual real estate broker, property manager or owner, not some imposter.

  • Don’t finalize any rental agreement by email without verifying both the property and the owner or agent. You can do this by asking specific questions about the property and the area. Vague answers should send up red flags.
  • Look for the street view of the property address on the internet to confirm the property is the one advertised.
  • Check reviews and references.
  • Always use credit cards – never wired money or prepaid debit cards. Credit cards allow you to dispute questionable charges, dramatically limiting your liability.

When planning your vacation, do your homework and remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Safe travels!

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