In light of Australia’s Bestjet fiasco, which left thousands of consumers with empty pockets after plane tickets previously booked went up in a puff of smoke alongside refund dollars following the company’s collapse, travelers are increasingly wary of travel scams. In a world where even seemingly legit businesses leave travelers bereft, is there any way to truly protect oneself when securing travel services?
Ensuring Protection Against Travel Scams
The thought of travel scams is enough to make anyone sick. Sadly, travel fraud rose 16% in 2017, from airline to hotel booking scams and credit card data theft. It continues to accelerate at a rapid pace alongside the popularity of online booking services, not all of which are legitimate. Making oneself aware of common types of fraud, however, can help travelers guard against these increasingly common troubles:
- Investigate the Legitimacy of ‘Discount Travel’ Offerings
Oftentimes, a simple internet search on the legitimacy of an online travel agency or foray onto the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or Trip Advisor website can point you to the legitimacy of online travel firms.
- Watch for ‘Instant’ Travel Discounts
Discounted vacation offers from third-party firms designed to lure customers into making impulsive buys for airfare, lodging, cruises, and other travel fare are best avoided. These companies often pocket the charges customers pay via credit card and shirk on offerings.
- Realize there’s is No Such Thing as a ‘Free Vacation’
These types of scams are aimed at stealing money from your bank account. In real life, they just don’t exist. To identify a fraudulent deal, be on the lookout for trips to exotic locales – with no mention of airlines, hotels/resorts, specific dates, or fees.
- Push-Back on High-Pressure Tactics
A legitimate travel management company will never put pressure on you to close on a travel deal. Pushy sales consultants are banking on the FTC’s 60-day dispute rule: You must dispute a bill within 60-days of receiving the first charges. Oftentimes, by the time consumers realize the travel company is ripping them off, it’s too late. Again, looking to the Better Business Bureau or Trip Advisor will often reveal such scams.
- Circumnavigate Residential Home Vacation Rental Fraud
Shady apartment dwellers and homeowners offering deep discounts on travel rentals, with the caveat of an immediate down payment on homes that later turn out to be derelict or nonexistent, are becoming increasingly more pervasive. This is easy to avoid, however, by shopping the right sites and avoiding anonymous sites, such as Craigslist. Reputable websites such as Airbnb won’t release funds to owners into renters check-in, and HomeAway provides secure payments, as well well as money-back guarantees.
- Beware of Currency Exchange Scams
Make sure your business travel solutions include information on currency exchange rates when traveling abroad. Street-based storefront currency exchanges often charge excessive fees or misguided exchange information that favors retailers, banking on traveler ignorance. Look to accredited and bank exchange services, or use a credit card instead.
Protect yourself from travel scams with the help of a trusted business travel agency. Contact GTI Travel, learning more about how our services can help you guard against travel fraud today.