Consumer Tips to Ensure a Fun Summer Vacation | Sports & Recreation
Kick back, put your feet up and enjoy yourself! That is what a vacation is all about, right? It should be, but unscrupulous businesses and con artists who are plotting travel scams or identity theft can turn your dream vacation into a nightmare!
The Office of Consumer Affairs offers the following tips to help vacationers plan a grand trip while avoiding scams.
Planning your vacation:
• Buy your vacation package from a local business that you have researched and trust. Check with Consumer Affairs for a history of complaints.
• Beware of “free” trip offers. These are generally frauds that may leave you stranded. At the very least, they are not free and require you to pay for taxes, fees, upgrades, or for specific days.
• Use a credit card when paying for your travel plans. If you have a problem, you can file a dispute with the credit card company.
• Watch out for vacation rental scams. Check out the company listing the property. Look for reviews and see if you can contact prior renters. Avoid a rental listing that requires payment sent via wire transfer services. These are almost always scams! Call Consumer Affairs to check them out.
• Always get confirmation of your booking. Print out reservation information along with confirmation information. Know the return or cancellation policies. Ask questions to make sure you are not surprised with hidden fees.
Before you leave your home:
• Do not post your vacation plans on social networking sites and instruct children not to post as well. That is like sending an invitation to a burglar to visit your home while it is unoccupied. To prevent grandparents from falling victim to the “grandparent scam”, let immediate family know where you are going.
• Stop your mail and newspaper or have a neighbor collect them. Not only does a full mailbox signal that no one is home, but it presents an opportunity for thieves to steal your identity.
• Put indoor lights on timers. Ask neighbors who you trust to watch your home for activity.
• Leave your checkbook at home and clean your wallet of unnecessary cards and IDs. Remember, credit cards are the safest way to pay, not just for travel plans but also for travel expenses, because they offer more protection. Or consider using traveler’s checks which can be replaced if lost or stolen.
• If vacationing in another state or country, you may wish to contact your credit card company and let them know where and how long you will be traveling. This will help their fraud department recognize fake charges if your card is used elsewhere.
While on vacation:
• Do not leave valuables out in the open in your hotel room. Use the hotel safe.
• Be careful of shared hotel computers and public Wi-Fi networks. Do not access your financial information on a public computer as someone might be using software to steal your identity.
• Watch out for pick pockets. Keep your purse closed and carry it closely. Keep wallets in front pockets.
• Do not advertise that you are a tourist. Place maps and travel brochures in the glove compartment.