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Be scam savvy

Some travel offers are too good to be true


 

Take off eh.comThere are some travel deals out there these days causing even veteran observers to do double-takes. But some travel deals aren’t deals at all. Plain and simple, they’re scams, aimed at separating you from your cash, often with nothing in return.

Travel is hugely popular with scammers. Estimates suggest that vacation swindles cost North American consumers more than $10-billion per year, making travel the fourth most common type of consumer fraud. Part of the attraction for scammers is that many travel products require a down payment before the product or service is provided.

The bottom line is that if it sounds too good to be true (You’ve won a FREE TRIP!) it most likely is. Legitimate travel companies can’t afford to give away their product. Following are some suggestions to help you evaluate travel offers and avoid being victimized by a travel scam:

  • Eyes Wide Open
    Be extremely sceptical about unsolicited e-mail, postcard and phone solicitations saying you’ve been selected to receive a fabulous vacation or anything free. Be especially wary of firms requiring you to wait at least 60 days to take your trip – you may not be able to find them when the time comes.
  • Not-So-Fine Print
    Some offers impose so many requirements and restrictions, such as black-out dates and companion fees, that you will either never have the chance to take the trip or you will end up paying more than had you made the arrangements on your own or used a travel agent.
  • Check ‘em Out
    If you’ve never heard of the company offering you that great travel deal, you can run your own background check. You can do this by searching for the company on the Better Business Bureau’s website or by checking to see if they are members of theAssociation of Canadian Travel Agencies. It’s also worth Googling the company name or the offer that’s tempting you – you may be able to learn from the experiences of others.
  • Facts First
    Get all the details in writing about any trip prior to payment. This includes the total price; cancellation and change penalties, if any; and specific information about all components of the package.
  • Privacy Please
    Never give out your credit card number unless you initiate the transaction and are confident about the company with which you are doing business.
  • Common Sense Counts
    Why would you need to call a fee-based 900-number to book a vacation?  If you insist on replying to an e-mail or calling a 900-number in response to a travel solicitation, understand the charges and know the risks.
  • Run, Don’t Walk
    High-pressure sales presentations that don’t allow you time to evaluate the offer, or which require you to disclose your income, are red flags to be heeded. If the product is so good, why is the sell so hard?
  • Use Protection
    Always pay with a credit card if possible. Even legitimate companies can go out of business. If you live in B.C., Ontario or Quebec, book your travel with a registered travel seller, and your investment will be protected by a fund set up for that purpose.

If you think you’ve been scammed, contact your local Better Business Bureau or the ministry that handles consumer services in your province. You can also contact the Canadian Competition Bureau by visiting their website at www.competitionbureau.gc.ca or calling them at 1-800-348-5358. The Bureau investigates complaints of business misrepresentation, including deceptive telemarketing and advertisements.

Photo Credit: mict


 
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Be scam savvy

  1. Great tips! In this day and age we all need to be more vigilant.
    I want to tell you a quick story that recently happened to me:
    I looked at the newspaper ad's for a car – one that caught my attention was a 2005 BMW 5-series at an exceptionally low price ($9,000!!!!). I immediately e-mailed the person who responded rather quickly and said that she was looking for a 'quick' sale as she was now living in the UK and the car was in Toronto. She attached pictures, VIN #, and other details. I responded that I would pay cash if I could get the car by the weekend. She responded 'absolutely'…but….(don't you hate 'buts'!!!)…she wanted $1,500 up front so she would not be wasting time flying back if I wasn't serious. I told her my lawyer would handle her request to put the $1,500 in escrow.
    I never heard back from her.
    I'm still wondering which poor slob got suckered by this crook!

  2. My brother was almost suckered by a good scam. He was looking for a renter and received interest from a guy in 'London'. He assumed London, Ont. The guy sent him a check for twice first month's rent and asked him the wire the difference to him. Unfortunately my brother is trusting and was more concerned with being charged with theft if he didn't send the money, then with a scam. Fortunately, the Western Union guy stopped him. Whew! At least he learned his lesson without losing his money.

    Also, I do like how you are never to give out your credit card number unless you solicit the co. but then should always pay with credit card.

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