Though the weather in much of the country suggests otherwise, spring is nearly upon us, and for many Americans, that means it’s time for a spring break vacation.
Most people looking to get away, whether they’re college students or not, search for deals that allow them to enjoy their break for a minimal amount of money. Scammers prey to consumers’ desire to save, as many organizations such as the Better Business Bureau and the National Consumers League have warned, so take note of some of the signs that a spring break travel package is too good to be true.
1. Upfront Payments
It’s not uncommon to pay for much of vacation costs in advance, but there are some circumstances where that might be a ploy to get your money without delivering what’s promised. It’s a good idea to deal with reputable travel companies or a service you’ve previously used.
If you’re booking a trip through an unfamiliar company, watch out for offers that include fancy amenities or extremely low prices and require upfront payment. This isn’t to say you can’t find a great deal, but you should thoroughly research the opportunity and the companies involved before committing financially.
2. Winning a Trip
Like getting a good deal, it’s certainly possible to win a vacation. If you didn’t enter a contest, though, you probably didn’t win anything but a phone call or email from a scammer.
I experienced this just last week. I received a phone call — a recording — telling me I won a cruise, and I was told to press 1 to speak to a travel associate (I didn’t). Oftentimes, something like this is a robocalling operation searching for “good” numbers (numbers where people answer and interact with the caller), which are then compiled into lists and sold to other scammers.
3. Lack of Details
When you’re paying for any vacation, make sure you understand what is and isn’t included in your package. Get everything in writing, and follow up with your travel provider if anything isn’t clear to you. Something may appear to be a great deal when you first pay, but you won’t like getting hit with additional fees or taxes you didn’t realize weren’t included in the advertised price.
Unexpected travel costs or getting blatantly scammed can be a huge financial setback and potentially hurt your credit, if you find yourself in debt because of it. Vacations are often large purchases, which is why they need to be well-researched and thoughtfully planned. It may be a labor-intensive process you don’t like, it’s all for the sake of having an enjoyable getaway.
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