Travel plans can cause you big
over age 50 travel more than any other age group and they do it a
lot with bigger vacations that cost more and they have more cash
to spend while they are traveling. What most people forget
about in all the excitement is to watch out for travel scammers
who will take advantage of your eagerness.
may sound simple, but here some ways to avoid being travel-scammed. When planning your next
vacation, keep these
travel reminders handy and save the excitement for when you
actually start the vacation.
They may sound
simple, but most people forget the most common ways to avoid being
travel sellers deliver what they promise. Others do not. Some
travel sellers will take your dreams and your dollars. Don't
let that happen.
plans - be smart
- Take your travel business to a
local travel agent who is well established in your community.
Ask family, friends, neighbors and co-workers for a
"satisfied customer" referral who they've used to
make travel plans.
- Check out the travel seller
with the local Better Business Bureau and make sure the travel
company is properly registered as a seller of travel.
This is one reason that you DO NOT want to do business with a
travel seller who calls you and wants you to buy now.
- Consider doing business with
travel companies who are members of a professional travel
organization. You won't know unless you ask and then
verify. But keep in mind that memberships of
travel organizations are no guarantee against fraudulent or
deceptive travel business practices.
- Consider shopping with an ARC
(Airline Reporting Corporation) travel seller that has the
ability to write airline tickets at the time of purchase.
Financial stability is one of the requirements needed to
obtain an ARC membership.
costs - spend money wisely
- Plan ahead, take advantage of
cost savings offered for early bookings. But also
consider what you are buying and if there is anything that
could stand in your way. In order to save money, some
companies now offer non-refundable tickets that you may as
well burn if you miss the flight.
This means that if you are deathly ill, the dog runs away at
the last second, or the alarm clock doesn't go off, you are
out of luck. Knowing what you are buying and all the
things that can go wrong is important, but one of the things
that scammers want you to forget about. Concentrate and
know the full travel details including who can cancel and why.
- Be sure to check out
"regular pricing" before you are sure that you have
a deal. Scammers often sell real travel plans by
inflating the price and then offering you a huge discount if
you buy now.
- Look out for people that call
you out of the blue, want you to commit (often with some
excuse about having to lock down the deal before it's too
late. If it's too late, don't worry about it.
Other deals will be available. Scammers and fast moving
sales people like to force the deal before you have a chance
to think about it.
- Consider acting as your own
agent by booking your own travel arrangements and hotel
accommodations. If you are "on-line" on the Internet
you can book your own airline travel, often at discount
prices. But here too, be sure to read all of the
stipulations. In some cases, there might be some things
that you cannot live with like nonrefundable tickets or
flights that start in the middle of the night.
- Ask about pre-packaged
specials, discounts or other benefits available through an
agency or a supplier. Evaluate package deals carefully.
Compare what you would pay for each individual component to
the price of the total package.
- Ask about discounts for
frequent flyers, senior citizens, other types of memberships,
and specific credit card holders. Consider traveling during
the "off- season," weekdays, and odd hours to
receive even greater discounts. Stay a certain number of days
and you may get extra savings.
plans - look out for these
- "Buy Now Travel
Later" travel certificate programs which take your money
and promise future travel. This is a big scam pulled on
Seniors are told to "buy now and save it for a rainy
day". Since the scammer knows that the victim might
buy the travel package now but won't even attempt to check it
out for several weeks or more, it is longer until he is found
out. That gives him more operating time before having to
What's more, the victim is also told to "call me back if
you have ANY trouble at all". That of course means
a very great likelihood that the travel victim will put him on
notice and give him a couple of days to pack up.
- Travel discount clubs. Many
people will never be able to travel enough to make up the cost
of the membership. If the cost of the membership is more than
your annual vacation budget, rethink your
In some cases, seniors will be told that they can buy into
travel programs that they can then pass along to their family
in the future. Be sure that this and all promises are in
writing and a part of your contract with full costs and
obligations being stated.
In such cases, remember that anything that is included in your
estate is subject to estate laws. As such, it is always
best to have an attorney review any contract before signing
- Joining a travel club which
takes your money and promises that you can travel in the
future. There is no guarantee the travel club or the travel
services will be available or even in business when you want
to travel. Travel clubs come and go and very few have
been around long enough to have a good reputation in the
Travel clubs often become unprofitable for the owners of the
travel club when they have to start putting out
services. The money spent on joining the travel club is
often used immediately to pay salaries and other costs.
Travel clubs are seldom a good investment.
- Purchasing travel memberships
or services from high pressure telemarketers who push for
quick decisions or immediate payment.
High pressure and immediate decisions mean that you don't have
time to think about it, talk about it with friends and
relatives, and you don't have a chance to ask an attorney
about it or shop other travel deals.
Fast decisions mean big mistakes no matter how old you
are. Bottom line, there is NO reason that you must act
now, even if the salesman says so. Maybe the deal won't
be there in a week or so, maybe it will. The
travel salesman might even pretend to get mad because you want
time to consider the deal. Don't worry about it.
It's your money, your vacation plans, and two minutes from the
time you hang up on him, he won't even remember your
name. He will be talking to someone else.
Even if the salesman says this deal will be gone yet tonight,
chances are that if you call him in a week, he will offer you
the same program or something just as good or better. If
not, there are tons of other travel companies out there that
do want your business.
Another travel sales tactic is to sell you on the vacation
benefits, with the very general condition of your travel
arrangements being "subject to availability".
What a scammer won't tell you is that you will probably never
find much of anything that you want, which is
You might find that your travel plans to Phoenix AZ must be
put off until August or that there is availability in Butte
Montana in January, but is that what you want? Talk to
current customers and see if they are happy with the deal, and
do searches on the Internet to see who is saying what about
whom and the kind of deal they received.
- Expectations of luxury travel
accommodations when you pay bargain travel prices. Remember
the old adage, " at most... you get what you pay
for". In some cases, you might not even get that.
Luxury travel accommodations are a big con because it is hard
to prove that what you expected, is what was offered and that
the travel accommodations that you thought you would get are
reasonable. Conmen are very adept at picking the words
that can be interpreted in many ways depending upon who hears
Your idea of luxury accommodations will be different than
other people and if sued, it is hard to prove that your idea
is the right one. Even if you were duped, most judges
still operate under the premise of, "let the buyer
beware". Use your head and make sure that the
prices seem reasonable for what you are expecting.
Words can also be used to describe the same thing only with a
different perspective. The brochure might describe
"quaint rooms that give you the feeling that you have
stepped back in time". You might see it as a small
musty old dark room with peeling paint, 30 year old carpet,
and decades worth of mold and grime on the fixtures.
They might call the same specific complaints,
"normal wear and tear".
- Be especially aware of,
"You are the winner of a luxury vacation", and so on
and so on. Your first question should be to ask where
the drawing took place. If you didn't enter anything,
you didn't win anything. It's just that
Also look out for the word, "award", as in,
"you have been awarded..." when they reference some
vacation. The word "WIN" can sometimes get
them in trouble, but "AWARD" gives them no penalty
points if they are pulling a fast one. However, they
also know that most consumers think of the terms synonymously.
Let's be real here. There are no random winners taken
from the phone directory. There are no promotional
drawings that require you to make a deposit or secure it with
a credit card. There are no grand opening drawings that
you don't have to enter to win. And if the person on the
other end sounds like that used car salesman that stiffed you
or he sounds like he's on a script, you can bet they are
aiming their sights at your bank account.
Hang up, walk away, and don't look back. If you have
already written the check or given them your credit card
number, call right now and stop the payment. You simply
did not win anything that the next person in the phone book
won't "win" too, and if you still think that you
have a deal, there is just something that you just haven't
found out yet.
You can certainly win travel vacations and it does
happen. But when it does, you will know what you have
entered, it will be from an organization that you are familiar
with, they will not ask you for your bank or credit card
numbers, and they will simply send you the materials that you
need to fill out. There is no risk of loss and they are
not going to award the prize to someone else who will give
them their private information.
If there are any doubts as to the legitimacy of winning, ask
for their name, company name, and direct dial phone number to
the company main switchboard, and tell them that you will call
them back in a few minutes. In most cases, swindlers are
in a phone room and don't have an extension or be able to take
a direct incoming phone call. They will not give this
information to you and insist that they complete "the
award" right now.
plans - always:
- Shop travel costs around.
Offers "too good to be true" are usually just that.
Discount travel offers by airlines, hotels and tour providers
are usually available through any legitimate travel
seller. If you get a call from someone who is selling a
week long cruise to the Bahamas for $399 cash and the local
travel agent cannot locate that deal, there is probably a good
reason why. The deal doesn't really exist.
- Pay for tickets and services
in advance with a credit card. That gives you extra protection
should the promised product or service not be delivered.
Never deliver a check or give your bank account information to
a person that calls with a travel deal.
- Before signing any agreements,
carefully read all the information supplied by the travel
seller company and if you have questions, ask or see an
attorney. Pay close attention to the conditions attached to
travel arrangements and the travel cancellation and refund
policies. This is where many people get messed up.
- Buy trip insurance, especially
for expensive trips purchased in advance, but be aware....
trip insurance does not protect against fraud or bankruptcy by
the travel seller.
- Read your insurance policy and
file a claim if something goes wrong. Travel insurance
usually covers you, even if the trip cancellation was your
fault. You have to provide a good reason of course, not
just that you didn't want to go.
If you were in an accident, got sick, had a death in the
family, or were injured, be sure that you document this and
then consult the travel insurance policy. Don't be
afraid to cash it in either. They weren't afraid to take
your money on the front end and they wrote the policy with all
of the provisions. If you qualify, you should collect.
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