It’s been a long winter and you have been looking forward to a springtime getaway for months. As you happily pack your bags and finalize your plans, be wary of these spring break scams, which can turn your dream vacation into a nightmare.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns springtime vacationers to be wary of travel deals that seem too good to be true. Before booking a flight or hotel reservation through an online service, check out the agency behind the deal. Look up the business on BBB.org and do some basic research on its website. If the images on the “travel agency” website look too picturesque for the price you are paying, do a quick Google image search using the keywords of your destination. You might find that these images have been lifted right off the website of a legitimate travel agency charging a lot more than what you are being asked to pay.
While people of every age enjoy a springtime getaway, scammers know that an especially large amount of high school and college students will be traveling during spring break — and they are quick to take advantage. In this ruse, scammers call victims and pretend to be their vacationing grandchild. They will claim to have been arrested or hospitalized while traveling and are in desperate need of cash. Sometimes, the caller will impersonate the local authorities who are supposedly holding the grandchild or the medical personnel at the hospital where the grandchild is allegedly receiving care. In either case, the caller will ask the worried grandparents to send money immediately via wire transfer or prepaid debit card. The scam can also be played out on parents of vacationing students or on their friends back home. Unfortunately, it is often successful.
If you are looking for a spring getaway for less, you might be looking for an Airbnb rental. You may find incredible deals on this vacation site — or you might play directly into the hands of a scammer.
In the classic Airbnb scam, you will find a great listing on Airbnb and contact the property owner. The host will send you a link for other properties they have listed, complete with images, reviews and logos. You will like what you see and wire a fee to reserve a rental. Unfortunately, though, when you try to confirm your reservation with Airbnb, it will have no record of the listed property or of your transaction. At that point, you will realize you were directed to a bogus website featuring a bogus listing and you are out the money you sent with no rental to show for it. Avoid this scam by checking the URL of any site you visit through Airbnb to make sure you are dealing with the legitimate rental service.
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