Know Before You Go… Vacation Fraud

April 25, 2022 | Bank Iowa

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Whether you’re headed to the beach, the mountains or on a business trip, the last thing you want to worry about when traveling is fraud. But, taking a few extra steps before heading out the door can save you a lot of trouble. 

 

When people think about travel fraud, things like stolen wallets or credit cards tend to come to mind.  However, much more sophisticated fraud trends are emerging. Rather than wait for travelers to arrive at their destinations, fraudsters are targeting victims before they even leave their homes. 

 

In a recent Federal Trade Commission report, these scams now rank second among all fraud trends.

 

To avoid becoming a part of this trend, keep the following tips in mind as you make travel plans:

  • Read ALL the fine print before you pay. This can be especially tricky online, as many travel sites – even the legit ones – intentionally bury less-than-ideal terms within their pages. 
  • Download and retain a copy of cancellation and refund polices before providing payment details.
  • Never pay with gift cards or wire transfers. Even if you retain a physical gift card, scammers can use the account numbers and PINs to take all the funds off of these types of cards. As for wire transfers, it is difficult to get money back even in circumstances of fraud.
  • Be leery of any travel or vacation related to a prize or special deal. Scammers want to get you in a frame of mind that has you feeling special or designated in some way. This makes you more amendable to paying unexpected fees and processing costs. 
  • Below-market prices should be thoroughly researched. If you get a text or email offering a drastically discounted vacation package, contact the hotel or location directly (not with phone numbers or websites contained in the text or email). Ask them to confirm the information is accurate. Scammers pretend to be from reputable organizations and may even have very similar email addresses. 
  • Always know the actual name of the hotel, airline, resort or cruise you are booking with. Scammers use terminology like “5-star rating” or “luxury class” in favor of names and addresses that can be verified.  
  • Scammers pressure you to act immediately. If you feel rushed into a decision, move on another option.

 

Travel should be an enjoyable experience free from fraud. To learn more about potential fraud activities related to travel, please visit the following resources. 

https://public.tableau.com/app/profile/federal.trade.commission/viz/COVID-19andStimulusReports/FraudLosses

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/avoid-scams-when-you-travel

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-avoid-scam