5 On Your Side

BBB: Be Wary of Travel-Related Fraud

Posted May 15, 2007 10:32 a.m. EDT

— The Better Business Bureau is advising consumers on how to spot and avoid the threat of vacation and travel-related fraud.

BBB officials said vacation scams can cost consumers over $10 billion each year. They also said bait-and-switch tactics account for many of the travel-related complaints with the BBB.

Here are some tips from the BBB to avoid getting scammed:

  • Gather Information:.Don’t be fooled by professional looking Web sites or e-mails. Few legitimate businesses can afford to give away products and services of real value or substantially undercut other companies’ prices. Visit the BBB Web site or call the BBB for a free reliability report on the travel company making the offer.
  • Ask detailed questions and get it in writing. Get names of airlines, hotels, car rental companies and travel providers. Consider contacting these businesses directly to verify arrangements. Always ask for confirmation of your travel arrangements in writing and ensure you receive copies of cancellation and refund policies.
  • Pay with a credit card and avoid deals that require you to book 60 days in advance. Credit card companies may allow consumers to dispute a charge within 60 days of purchase. Representatives from eBay also caution consumers against paying with personal checks and strongly recommend paying with a method such as PayPal that has built-in protection measures.
  • Contact the BBB if you are a victim of fraud. The BBB helps consumers and businesses through complaint and dispute resolution services. Victims of travel-related scams can visit the BBB Web site or call the BBB to file a complaint. Ultimately, consumer complaints expose bad businesses and help other consumers avoid becoming victims of vacation and travel-related fraud.