A reader: I’m thinking about taking a cruise. Do you have any advice that could help me make the right choices for this trip?
Action Line:Who doesn’t like a good vacation? Don’t relax yet, though, because scammers are always hard at work to get some of your hard-earned dollars. Your BBB suggests the following precautions when booking your trip:
▪ Get recommendations from your family and friends.
▪ Be wary of vacation deals that promise a “luxury cruise” for a very low price, or require immediate purchase to lock in a “special” rate.
Never miss a local story.
▪ Don’t forget to check customer reviews at bbb.org as well as other well-known customer review sites.
▪ Ask about “resort fees” or any other mandatory fees.
▪ Never send money by overnight delivery or provide payment to a courier sent to your home. That’s a common ploy used by scam artists.
▪ Avoid salespeople who try to pressure you into revealing your credit card number.
▪ Make sure you understand the policies and be sure to get them in writing.
▪ Ask for a cancellation policy just in case you need to cancel.
▪ Check out the company with bbb.org to make sure they can be trusted.
▪ Don’t forget to ask for details when a “luxury cruise” is offered. What exactly does that include?
▪ When you do make a reservation, pay by credit card. This gives you more protection than paying with a check or cash. Again, don’t give your credit card information to any business until you have checked on their reputation.
The Federal Trade Commission warns about signs of a scam:
▪ You “won a free vacation” – but you have to pay some fees first.
A legitimate company won’t ask you to pay for a prize. Any company trying to sell you on a “free” vacation will probably want something from you – taxes and fees, attendance at mandatory timeshare presentations, even pressure to buy “extras” or “add-ons” for the vacation, etc. Find out what your costs are before you agree to anything.
▪ The prize company wants your credit card number.
Especially if they say it’s to “verify” your identity or your prize, don’t give it to them.
▪ They cold-call, cold-text, or email you out of the blue.
Before you do business with any company you don’t know, call the attorney general and local consumer protection agencies in the company’s home state to check on complaints. Then, search online by entering the company name and the word “complaints” or “scam” and read what other people are saying.
▪ You’re pressured to sign up for a travel club for “great deals” on future vacations.
The pressure to sign up or miss out is a signal to walk away. Travel clubs often have high membership fees and limited choice of destinations or travel dates.
Report all scams to www.bbb.org/scamtracker
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 4201 W. Shaw Ave., Suite 107, Fresno, CA 93722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.