The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has outlined a range of precautions which travellers should take when looking to avoid travel-related scams, including recommendations to purchase travel insurance.
The BBB stated that ‘scammers often target people looking for great deals online by offering tempting vacation packages at unrealistically low prices’. It suggested using the tools accessible through its website to find reputable travel agencies, websites and agents.
The North America-based consumer advocate organisation cited figures from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) showing that consumers in the country have lost a total of US$265,140 to travel-related scams so far this year.
The same figures also showed that the amount reported for 2022 equated to a median loss of $600 per case, and that this amount was rising – up 18.9 per cent compared with just over $500 in monetary losses in 2021. The FTC statistics showed that travel-related fraud accounted for 16 per cent of all fraud reported to the agency in 2022.
Plan ahead and be alert
Guidance outlined by the BBB include:
- Planning ahead – taking plenty of time to research hotels, flights and the destination. Making bookings in advance is a safe way of getting better deals from reputable agents
- Avoiding broad internet searches – entering phrases such as ‘best deals’ into search engines can bring up websites which look convincing, but are actually ‘designed solely to rip people off’
- Be alert – Watch out for phone calls or letters offering a ‘free trip’, or websites offering prices that appear too good to be true
- Do your homework – Ask family and friends to recommend a reputable travel agent or website, and visit the BBB website to find free business profiles. Read reviews and research businesses in-depth
- Get all trip details in writing – This should include the total cost, restrictions, cancellation penalties, the names of airlines and hotels. Review and retain a copy of the hotels’ and airlines’ cancellation and refund policies, as well as those of the travel agency or booking site used
- Consider buying travel insurance – Pay attention to the level of coverage provided, and read the fine print on insurance policies
- Pay with a credit card – Credit cards provide additional protection over other forms of payment if something goes wrong with travel reservations.