PAY NOW, TRAVEL LATER ... MAYBE
Typically, scam operators won't give you full and complete information
in writing until after you've given them a credit card number,
certified check or money order. Once you do get further information,
there will be restrictions and conditions which may make it more
expensive, or even impossible, to take your trip. Click here to see a mock scam site by the Federal Trade Commission.
getting a refund is sometimes possible, it's better to avoid paying
anything in the first place. While there is the remote chance that you
might miss a legitimate deal, chances are you will save yourself time
and money in the long run.
To help avoid being a victim of
a travel scam, the American Society of Travel Agents provides the
following suggestions when evaluating travel offers:
Be extremely skeptical about postcard and phone solicitations which say you've been selected to receive a fabulous vacation;
You should receive complete details in writing about
any trip prior to payment. These details should include the total
price; cancellation and change penalties, if any; and specific
information about all components of the package;
If you insist on calling a 900 number in response to a travel solicitation, understand the charges and know the risks;
Walk away from high pressure sales presentations
which don't allow you time to evaluate the offer, or which require that
you disclose your income;
Be suspicious of companies which require that you wait at least 60 days to take your trip.
If you think you've been scammed, contact your local Better Business Bureau,
your local or state Consumer Affairs Office, state attorney general's
office, or e-mail ASTA's Consumer Affairs Department at firstname.lastname@example.org for information and assistance.
SPORTS TRAVEL PACKAGES
Often you will find advertisements for travel packages to major
sporting events, like the Super Bowl, the Daytona 500 or the World
Series. Many of these offers are legitimate, but there have been
instances in the past where consumers have been scammed by unscrupulous
vendors who never had tickets to the event.
year, we hear reports of sports fans whose travel plans were ruined by
a questionable organization with an offer that sounded too good to be
true, said ASTA President and CEO Cheryl Hudak, CTC. A good travel
agent knows which questions to ask and what to look for in a legitimate
sports travel package. Many people aren't aware, for instance, that
under the U.S. government's 'Truth in Ticketing' rules, a tour operator
advertising a Super Bowl travel package that includes a flight and game
tickets must have the game tickets in hand or have a written contract
for the tickets before they can even advertise.
buy a sports travel package, be sure to carefully read the tour
brochure and any other solicitation material and pay by credit card,
where possible, so you can be protected under federal fair credit
AGENT CREDENTIALS FROM 'CARD MILLS'
Beware of offers from companies that sell questionable travel agent
credentials. Consumers may be led to believe that such cards allow them
to travel at free or reduced rates.
making these offers are known throughout the travel industry as card
mills because they routinely offer credentials by the thousands in the
form of an identification card that is sold for a significant fee. In
turn, these cards would presumably be accepted by every segment of the
travel industry. Many suppliers of travel, however, do not accept them.
For more information, see What Consumers and Consumer Protection Agencies Should Know About Travel Industry Card Mills by the American Society of Travel Agents.