Scammers Out In Force This Holiday Travel Season, Seniors Beware!
Scammers are out in force this Holiday travel season, so be careful. Senior citizens are especially vulnerable to being cheated.
The growing population of older Americans are vulnerable to vacation scams because many love to travel. Christmas travel is popular and expensive. That’s because many seniors want to see their families.
Last year more than 30,000 people reported being scammed on vacation travel, with a median loss of $800, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a consumer protection agency.
Scammers: 60 Million Holiday Travelers Projected
This year about 60 million adults in the United States are planning to travel for Thanksgiving or on the December holidays, according to a report by CreditCards.com.
Travel scams can mean not only lost money, but other headaches as well. Unscrupulous operators can leave victims stranded away from home, scrambling to replace what they paid for.
John Breyault, vice president of policy, telecommunications and fraud at the nonprofit National Consumers League, says there are people showing up with their luggage, ready to check into their “rental,” only to discover it is a private home.
Scammers offer nonexistent properties for rent using the stolen digital photos of other places. And, at other times they duplicate real listings onto sites like Craigslist, substituting in their own email and persuading travelers to send “deposits” through wire transfers or gift cards. That type of payment makes it hard for victims to get their money back. You end up away from home without a place to sleep and “now you still owe additional money for an expensive hotel stay.
Scammers: Tips on How To Avoid Getting Scammed
Beware of the following types of ads:
- Airline tickets that are ordered through unofficial sites. They often are fake.
- “Free trip” offers and sweepstakes that require victims to pay fees or other costs. You don’t pay to collect on something you’ve won. Hang up.
- An unsolicited email, phone call or text that offers a vacation deal. Beware. They can steal your personal information.
Here are more tips on avoiding travel scams:
- Use credit cards only, it gives you a record.Wire transfers and gift cards are like cash; once you’ve paid, it’s hard to get your money back.
- Remember pay with cash only to people whom you actually know and trust.
- When you search on the internet, make sure you end up at legitimate websites. The top of the search results may include paid links with names very similar to an airline or other genuine travel site. Always buy directly from the airline or another vendor, such as a travel agent you know and trust.
- In many states, travel agents must register with the state attorney general or consumer department. Check them out before you buy.
- For hotels and airlines booked through a third party, check first with the provider to make sure the booking is real.
- Read the fine print on fees and cancellation policies.
- Compare an offer you’re considering with other deals. That hotel room overlooking New York’s Central Park for $100 a night is probably a scam.
The bottom line is this: If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.