Avoiding Travel Scams

Community | 06/28/24
A woman on a laptop

A vacation should be a time for rest and relaxation, but unfortunately, many fraudsters target vacationers when they are in a more relaxed state. Luckily, here at Ascend, we’ve provided you with a few things to look out for so you can enjoy your vacation without having to worry about becoming a victim of fraud. Let’s look at some of the most common vacation scams and how to avoid them.

Online rental

How it plays out: In this scam, fraudsters create fake listings for accommodations, offering attractive deals and eye-catching images. They’ll insist on upfront payment or request wire transfers to guarantee the availability. Unfortunately, though, the rental either does not exist, or it’s quite different than the images would have the vacationer believe.

Stay safe: To avoid falling victim to online rental scams, be cautious of deals that seem too good to be true. When booking a vacation rental online, do extensive research. Look up ratings and reviews and verify the legitimacy of the rental property through reputable websites or direct communication with the owner. Use secure payment methods only and never wire money to strangers.

Free vacation

How it plays out: A victim receives a letter, email, text, or social media message informing them that they’ve won a sweepstakes for a free luxury vacation. They’re asked to pay a small fee or tax to process the prize. Alternatively, they may be asked to share their credit card information before they can claim the prize. Sadly, after paying the fee, they’ll never hear from the sweepstakes company again.

Stay safe: Again, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Never share personal information with an unverified contact or make a payment to an unknown recipient via gift card or wire transfer. Also, if you’re asked to pay a “processing fee” or “tax” to claim a prize, you’re being scammed.

Travel package

How it plays out: In this scam, a victim falls for an enticing travel package that promises luxurious vacations at unbelievably low prices. Fraudulent travel agencies or websites may request upfront payment for the entire package, only to disappear once the money is received.

Stay safe: Protect yourself by thoroughly researching any travel agency or website you use to book your vacation. Check for reviews, certifications, and contact information. Be skeptical of deals that fall way below average market prices. It’s best to use trusted and well-established travel agencies and to opt for secure payment methods that provide protection against fraud.

Fake travel websites and emails

How it plays out: Scammers create bogus travel websites or send deceptive emails mimicking legitimate companies. These fraudulent platforms trick users into disclosing personal data, such as credit card details and account information, or con them into making payments for vacations that do not exist.

Stay safe: Only browse and interact with secure sites. Check each URL for legitimacy; if something seems off, it likely is. Never click on random links or download attachments from unfamiliar sources. If you’d like to book a vacation through a specific travel agency, contact them directly through verified contact information. Always use secure payment methods with purchase protection, such as a credit card, when booking a vacation online.

By following these tips, you can protect yourself from scams and fully lean into the fun and relaxation a vacation provides. For more tips regarding financial security, check out our fraud prevention page.

Additionally, planning and saving for your dream trip doesn't have to be stressful. Our free budgeting worksheet can help you set money aside each month, ensuring that you have the funds needed for a memorable and worry-free vacation. With careful budgeting and vigilance against scams, you can enjoy your travels with peace of mind, knowing you’re both financially prepared and protected.

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