Terrifying Travel Scams have resurfaced as travel resumes. Scammers are becoming more skilled, and they may easily scam vacationers of their hard-earned income. So you can avoid the scammers, we’ve found five of the most frequent travel scams for 2021.
1. Scams With Fake Car Rental
Due to a shortage of rental cars in 2021, desperate visitors hunting for any vehicle to rent are especially vulnerable to scammers.
One typical scam for 2021, according to Amy Nofziger, Director of Victim Support for the AARP Fraud Watch Network, involves criminals making fake vehicle rental company websites and then buying advertisements for their fake pages to show online for search words like “cheap car rentals.”
The unknowing browser would then phone the fake customer service number on the web (which appeared to be for a legitimate vehicle rental company) and be informed that the low rate was only valid if they paid with a store-bought gift card (like an American Express gift card).
2. Scams Involving “Free” Vacations
If you receive a phone call, email, or letter claiming that you’ve won a free trip (you only have to pay taxes and fees) or offering you a deal that seems too good to be true, walk away, advises Nofziger.
If the deal is from a reputable travel company, check up the company’s details separately (don’t use the contact information given to you, since it could be sent to a scammer) to double-check.
Another red flag to out for is if the company asks you to pay with a prepaid gift card or debit card rather than a credit card. It’s much more difficult to recover stolen funds on those types of cards than it is on a credit card.
3. Scams In Vacation Rentals
Have you discovered a picture-perfect holiday rental on the internet? Check the vacation rental site’s fraud policy to ensure that you’ll be covered if your reservation turns out to be a scam. To best protect yourself, Nofziger advises that you carefully read the booking platform’s guidelines on accepted payments and that you always pay with a credit card for further security.
Fraudulent listings, misleading listings, or renters sending you a fake cashier’s check or money order for more money than they owe you are all common vacation rental scams (and asking you to send them the excess amount before you realize the check is fake).
Are you unsure about the vacation rental company you’re considering? Nofziger recommends looking for complaints on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website. To find warning reviews online, search the firm name adding the keywords “scam,” “fraud,” or “complaints.”
Airline Websites That Aren’t Real
Fake airline sites, like vehicle rental fraud, have been increasingly common in recent years. If you’re looking for low-cost airline tickets and come across a ticket reseller you’ve never heard of, approach with care. “The red sign is that they will always ask for money in the form of a gift card, bitcoin, or other non-traceable means of payment,” Nofziger advises.
“Be aware of pop-ups when visiting any travel website. Many customers have told us that they thought they were on the right website when they entered their payment information, but it was actually a third-party pop-up travel site with higher costs and different cancellation policies.”
5. Scams With TSA PreCheck And Global Entry
When applying for TSA PreCheck and Global Entry, be on the lookout for imposter websites. These fake government websites look exactly like the real thing, but they are designed to steal your sensitive personal information and money.
When you search for “Global Entry” in the example above, the first (paid) result is for a third-party Global Entry site, not the official government website.
Don’t look for “TSA PreCheck” or “Global Entry” when applying for or renewing your membership. cbp.gov and tsa.gov are direct links to legitimate government websites.
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