Beware of these post-pandemic travel scams

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As cybercrime increases, so does scams and travel is not immune. In fact, with so much pent-up demand in the industry, prices are rising, as are the number of people spoofing websites in order to attract the vulnerable.

Has anyone offered you free or nearly free travel recently? Trading low in a market oversaturated with rising prices is tempting, but probably not legitimate.

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Phone calls, emails, and postcards with tempting travel deals sound tempting, but an offer far less than the value of a trip – like five nights in a hotel plus a plane ticket to Maui for $ 200. $ – means it’s probably a scam, ”said Amy Nofziger, AARP anti-fraud expert.

Nofziger said the best way to avoid falling victim to these deals is to walk away if it sounds too good to be true. It also indicates a clear way to detect fraud.

“If a business asks you to pay with a prepaid gift card instead of a credit or debit card, that’s a scam,” says Nofziger. “Always work with a trusted travel agency or company that has a long history of providing travel opportunities. “

Rental cars are hard to come by in a post-pandemic travel landscape. So of course, offers that offer cars at affordable prices should be greeted with some skepticism.

“Several travelers alerted AARP this spring to bogus scams by rental car companies. The crooks have set up fake online customer service numbers that look like the big car rental companies, ”Nofziger said. “When you call, they take your money and your personal information and then leave you stranded. “

The AARP has also reported bogus sites selling TSA PreCheck and Global Entry programs.

“Travelers interested in signing up or renewing TSA PreCheck should start the process by going to the government’s official website, tsa.gov,” she said.

Are you looking for a vacation rental? Beware of scam companies that offer properties that are not real.

Keep all of your interactions with vacation property owners on the legitimate business website, ”Nofziger advised. A request to take your conversation off the site is a sign of a likely scam. If a property has little reviews or looks too good to be true, search for the address online or check it on Google Maps.

Use a travel counselor

One way to avoid getting ripped off is to hire a reputable travel advisor to help you plan your vacation. Travel counselors defend travelers on several levels. They don’t just rebook canceled flights and help customers get home when things go wrong.

Travel counselors help their clients avoid situations where they might get ripped off and steer them away from deals that sound too good to be true. Good advisors provide their clients with peace of mind as well as a safe, healthy and seamless travel experience, especially during a pandemic.

The American Society of Travel Advisors has a database of verified advisors on TravelSense.org.

New legislation

In Washington, the rise of these scams has even caught the attention of lawmakers, and a new bill was recently introduced to Congress by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., And Steven Daines, R-Mont. to protect consumers from this growing problem.

“As the pandemic comes to an end and people plan to travel safely again, we must ensure that consumers are protected from unfair and deceptive practices designed to target travelers,” Klobuchar said in a statement. at USA TODAY. “This bipartisan legislation will help protect consumers from travel scams and prevent fraudulent behavior in the travel and tourism industry in the future.”



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