Beware of unsolicited travel opportunities.
There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. If a travel opportunity sounds
too good to be true, it probably is. Either they will take your money and
run, or there are hidden charges. For example, many so-called "free
vacations" or "vacation giveaways" require you to stay at a specific
hotel-at exorbitant rates.
Beware of extremely low-priced offers, unsolicited offers involving
Florida or Hawaii, and opportunities that try to pressure you into buying
on the spot.
you're elderly, be especially careful. Scam artists will try to confuse
and manipulate you.
detailed questions (e.g., what is covered by the price and what isn't,
whether there are any additional charges, the names of the hotels,
airlines, airports, and restaurants, exact dates and times, cancellation
policies, and refund policies), and get it all in writing before you buy
Never give personal information, including credit card numbers, social
security numbers, bank account numbers, or similar information to an
unsolicited telephone salesperson. If you must, ask for a telephone number
and call them back the next day, after you've had time to check them out.
Call the Better Business Bureau and use the telephone number to verify if
they're a legitimate business, and if so, whether there have been any
complaints. You can also checkout the company with the state attorney
general's office and the local consumer protection agency.
for purchases with a credit card, never with a check or money order. When
you pay for purchases with a credit card, you're protected by the Fair
Credit Billing Act against fraudulent charges.
Never give out your frequent flyer number over the phone, unless you
initiated the call.
Don't assume that just because a company places advertisements in a
newspaper or has a toll-free 800 number, it must be safe. It takes time
for a company to generate enough complaints for the Federal Trade
Commission to start an investigation. Moreover, not all 800 numbers are
toll-free these days, and it's possible for an individual to get their own
not give your tickets to anyone other than an agent of the airline at the
ticketing/check-in counter, the gate, or the airline's offices. A common
scam is for someone wearing a uniform similar to that of the airline to
provide some excuse for taking your tickets (e.g., claiming there is a
problem with the tickets). If you're not sure that someone is an airline
employee, check their ID with the airline.
you've encountered a problem, or are suspicious of an offer, call the
National Fraud Information Center, a hotline operated by the National
Consumers League. The number is 800-876-7060 and can be reached from 9a.m.
to 5 p.m. EDT during the week. You can also call the local Better Business
Bureau, the state Bureau of Consumer Protection, and the Attorney
A good booklet to
read is Telemarketing Travel Fraud, a free publication of the Federal Trade
Commission. Call 202-326-2222 for a copy, or write to: Federal Trade
Commission, Public Reference Branch, Room 130, Sixth Street and Pennsylvania
Avenue NW, Washington DC 20580.