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Tips to Avoid 6 Common Travel Scams

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Tips to Avoid 6 Common Travel Scams

Travel season is heating up along with the weather, which means scammers are bringing their A-game in hopes of separating you from your money. Whether youíre taking the kids to Disneyland, spending a romantic week in Aruba, or heading to Duluth for your cousinís wedding, you need to know what to look for to protect yourself.

The fact is, travel scams vary widely, from pickpockets to legal resort chargesódonít assume that legitimate businesses canít legally scam you, because many can and will. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) reports that Americans are tricked out of $10 billion per year in travel-related scams. From shady cabbies to too-good-to-be-true vacation packages, hereís what to be aware of:

Time Share Scams

If you live in the U.S. youíve probably gotten calls for a free or incredibly cheap vacation to Mexico or some similar warm destination with the caveat that you sit through a time-share presentation. Seems reasonable, and who wouldnít want a vacation home for which they donít have to pay full price or maintain? The problem arises when you succumb to the hard sell, and then are never able to actually use the timeshare because itís oversold. Many of the timeshare condos are illegal, or nearly so, and you could lose tens of thousands of dollars with no recourse but to complain to the BBB. If you are interested in a timeshare, do your research and go through a reputable company with good customer reviews.

Surprise Fees

Surprise fees and charges are a problem in all corners of the travel industry, from hotels and resorts to airline tickets. Travel companies are legally allowed to quote ridiculously low prices and then tack on fees for things you expected to be included, such as use of the gym or pool, or the ability to check your bags. Even if you donít use the gym or pool, resorts can require all guests to pay their ďresort fee,Ē which can make your vacation a lot more expensive than you expected. Experts recommend using a travel agency that will give you an ďall inĒ quote so you know exactly how much youíll be paying before you go.

Rental Car Scams

When you rent a car, you are given the opportunity to look for and report damage before you drive it off the lot so that you arenít charged for damage you didnít cause. However, some shady companies count on your either not doing the inspection, or not noticing hidden damage such as under the car so that they can charge you for it later. Customers can also be charged a ďloss of useĒ fee and most will suck it up and pay, but then the caródamage and allóis returned to the fleet to gouge the next person who comes along.

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10:52AM PDT on Sep 20, 2012

thanks the impostors one is scary. it's in my nature to trust what people say. if they asked for my info claiming to be the front desk i would prob go down to the front desk myself, but the other two? I'd be afraid i'd be penalized if i didnt comply and then it really was an inspector or police officer. yikes

6:50PM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

Oh, yeah, and for those of you who can't afford vacations, don't fall for one of those "Get Rich Quick" schemes that are supposed to turn you into a millionaire overnight... especially if you have to recruit others into the pyramid to do so...

I tried a couple of those multi-level selling schemes and the end results were always the same. Zero sales, zero profits and a huge net loss. Never again!

8:24AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Useful tip for a scam free vacation. There are greedy and unscrupulous ones everywhere and one must keep both eyes open!

4:33AM PDT on Jul 20, 2012

I think everybody should check out the Scam Detector app. I believe they're online as well.

12:07PM PDT on Jul 15, 2012

Remember too that if you use your credit/debit cards abroad, then check what fees you will be charged. It's not just your own bank but the machine abroad that you use it from & sometimes their bank on top. It is probably better to take out a larger chunk than keep paying every time you take out 20 dollars etc..

7:30PM PDT on Jul 14, 2012

Yikes. Good to know.
I have been asked to go to time-share presentations but had a bad feeling and didn't go.

3:24AM PDT on Jul 10, 2012

Is there anything scam-free these days?

8:30PM PDT on Jul 9, 2012

I can definitely understand how these rental car scams work, having once been conned into buying a car that cost four times as much to keep on the road (because it kept breaking down) as it did to make the actual purchase. I imagine the renters would be having a bad deal with these kinds of vehicles too, especially from one of those rental lots with the rule "You Break It, You Bought It". Very good places to stay away from.

Then you got the mechanics who fix one part of the vehicle only to break another (one that ISN'T covered by their warranties) to keep you coming back. Them you gotta watch for, too, especially if you're taking your car to a city you've never been in before. In a foreign country, I imagine these garages would be alot more dangerous, especially if their laws don't have the same kinds of service standards we do in North America.

In other words, mechanics are good to watch out for as well. Better still, make sure your car is in top condition before taking it to any strange cities and/or countries.

Another scam? Just look at one of the age reversal ads at the bottom of this page...

8:22PM PDT on Jul 9, 2012


5:09PM PDT on Jul 9, 2012

Makes me think twice about traveling.

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