A reader: I’m ready for spring break and so are my husband and my children. We want to go to a beach somewhere that we have never been before. We usually go to the Central Coast but decided to venture outside our comfort zone this year.
Any tips for us?
Action Line: Sounds like a great idea. After the wet winter we have had (not complaining!) sun and surf sounds glorious. That’s exactly what scammers are counting on.
So here are some tips that may help you plan a vacation you and your family will never forget. Don’t relax yet 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.
▪ 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 is 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.
▪ 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 you have checked on their reputation.
Don’t forget the resources you can find at the Federal Trade Commission as well. Check out this link for tips on hotels, vacation packages vacation rentals, etc.: www.consumer.ftc.gov/taxonomy/term/1292
And make sure you come home without being the next victim of identity theft. Don’t carry any more credit cards or personal information than you need. If you are staying in a hotel and you get a call from the “front desk” about your card information, walk down to the front desk – never give your info over the phone. It could be a scam.
If you feel the need to be connected to the internet instead of out on the beach, make sure you find out if any connection you are going to use is secure.
If you use credit card machines for purchase, be on the lookout for skimming devices. If it doesn’t look and feel right, don’t use the device.
Take precaution with your personal property like laptops, phones and purses.
Report all scams to www.bbb.org/scamtracker
Have a great spring break!
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, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.