Top 4 Summer Travel Scams of 2022

Genie wants families everywhere to be aware of the huge rise in summer travel scams due to the alleviation of COVID-19 restrictions.

A lot of us had to stay cooped up inside for the last couple of summers due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. But this summer, many families are looking forward to starting to travel again. Unfortunately, scammers are well aware of this and have devised many ways of taking advantage.

Here are the top 4 summer travel scams of 2022 and what to look out for:


The BBB has compiled a list of the top five most-reported travel scams of 2022:


1. Vacation rental con.


These con artists lure in vacationers with the promise of an unbelievable deal on a social media ad or post. The "owner” creates a false sense of urgency – such as telling potential clients that another vacationer is interested in the rental – they can also use this tactic to get their victims to pay quickly before they are able to do sufficient research or question the legitimacy of the offer.


How to protect yourself from this travel scam:

  • Talk with the owner by phone. If you are not using a service that verifies properties and owners, do not negotiate a rental solely by email or messaging. Many scammers don’t live locally, so speaking with the owner on the phone, asking detailed questions about the property, and local attractions will clarify if the listing is true. An owner with vague answers is a clear red flag.

  • Do research through public records. Investigate online by looking up the address and use Google Street View to confirm the property matches the one advertised. Also use Google Maps to verify any claims like distances to beaches, attractions and airports.

2. “Free” vacation scams.


When a cruise or travel company advertises a vacation as “free,” this should raise some big reg flags. It could be a ploy just to get personal information from you, or if it is a real offer it does not necessarily mean the trip is without cost or restrictions. Read the fine print to look for add-on fees for air transportation to the port, port charges, taxes, tips, and other undisclosed fees.


How to protect yourself from this travel scam:

  • If you are told that you've won a trip without actually entering a contest, be very suspicious.

  • Pricing, accommodations, and several amenities that seem like an extremely great deal that you can't find anywhere else are probably not true.

  • Pressure to accept the offer now or it's gone forever is a sure sign of a scam. Instead, walk away, hang up the phone, delete the email or text message.

3. Hotel scams.

When staying in a hotel, beware of scammers who use various techniques to obtain credit card information, including fake front desk calls, “free” wi-fi connections, and fake food delivery.


How to protect yourself from this travel scam:

  • Fake Front Desk Calls: Scammers call late at night impersonating the front desk person. The caller claims there’s a problem with the card on file and asks the traveler to "re-verify" the credit card information. Your actual hotel front desk will never call you to verify credit card information, but if you are still unsure you can always go down to the front desk to talk directly.

  • “Free” Wi-Fi Connections: Wi-fi “skimming” is a growing scam that targets travelers with the promise of free Internet access. Scammers set up a fake connection that appears to be free, but it’s not safe. They will control the connection through their computer, collect all the data the traveler transmits including passwords, card information, and more. Avoid doing any banking transactions or checking personal accounts when using an open wifi network. Use a secure, private network if it is absolutely necessary to access personal or financial accounts. The vast majority of hotels provide wifi that requires password protection.

  • Fake Food Delivery: Scammers will distribute fake menus to hotel rooms. When a traveler calls the phone number and orders delivery, they collect the credit card information and never deliver the food. Do a Google search on any restaurant before ordering from them and make sure to read their reviews.

4. Third-party booking site scams.


If you book your airfare, hotel, or other travel through a third-party website, be sure to use caution. BBB Scam Tracker continues to receive reports of scammers pretending to be online airline ticket brokers. In the most common version of the scam, travelers pay with a credit card and, shortly after making the payment, receive a call from the company asking to verify their name, address, banking information, or other personal details – something a legitimate company would never do.


How to protect yourself from this travel scam:

  • Look for reviews and ask for references. While vetting hotels, travel companies, vacation rentals and more, check Google for reviews and complaints. Look for photos and a variety of reviews. If the property or company doesn't have any online reviews, ask for references and call them.

  • Avoid wiring money or using a prepaid debit card. These payments are the same as sending cash. Once the money is sent, there is no way to get it back. Paying with a credit card the charges can be disputed and dramatically limit liability from a fraudulent purchase.

  • If it seems too good to be true, it probably is - Scammers lure in targets by guaranteeing an amazing trip at a very low price and creating a sense of urgency to act now. Research it first. If the hotel, travel or tour is much cheaper than similar options, be suspicious.

  • Check their social media presence. Look at the website for links to the company's Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram accounts. Often, scam artists will link to Facebook.com instead of Facebook.com/THEIRCOMPANYNAME. If they do have social media accounts, check their activity and see if any other users have left reviews or voiced complaints. Also, look for typos and pixelated images. These mistakes are signs of a scammer, not a company that cares about their online presence.

Please share this information to keep others protected from these scams!

Stay safe

Genie Team

Sources:

CBS News - https://www.cbsnews.com/pittsburgh/news/spotting-summer-travel-scams/

ABC 27 News - https://www.wkow.com/news/bbb-5-summer-travel-scams-to-be-aware-of/article_78657e24-c562-11ec-a660-1b148d598c08.html

ABC 11 News - https://abc11.com/summer-travel-fraud-scams-vacation-nightmare/11721409/

AARP - https://states.aarp.org/west-virginia/avoid-summer-travel-scams

BBB - https://www.bbb.org/article/scams/16913-bbb-tip-5-top-vacation-scams-to-watch-when-making-travel-plans