How to avoid travel fraud
Whatever your reasons for traveling are, there are risks – some you don’t have to take. The moment you step out of your comfort zone – the place you call home, you are opening yourself up to vulnerabilities. To help give you a better grasp of what these scams are, no matter how common or elaborate, here are some tips that can help prevent any chance of you getting victimized.
There’s not such thing as a “free trip”.
Taking a different spin on the economic principle, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”, we ask that you be wary of anything free that’s offered to you, especially online. There are a couple of reasons why you should bring out your inner cynic.
One, free trips cost the company a lot money, so they will most likely find a way to cash in some other way. Unless, you deliberately joined some extremely hyped raffle, which the company could have gotten so much mileage from, then they must be earning some other way.
The company might simply be luring you into buying their other products that end up being more expensive than the trips itself. Do not consider it a “free trip” if you have to pay for anything, like mandatory accommodations or really expensive tours.
Other than airlines, it’s seldom that companies would give away free trips, especially ones that cover everything. The more likely scenario is that there are hidden costs. For example, a free trip entails a sitting down for a long, high-pressure sales pitch that convinces you to buy a “cheap” timeshare or a travel club membership to avail of the free trip.
Two, this could just be a way to get to your identification, personal information (like passport details and social security number) and credit card details. Because you feel so grateful for winning such an expensive price, your guards are most likely down. That means it’s easier for a con man to take advantage of you.
Unfortunately, this type of a scam is not easy to spot, and even when you do, they could have already gotten what they needed. In this situation, vigilance is key. To avoid travel fraud, make sure that you’ve researched the company, the free trip promo and the people you’re directly talking to. Do not be handing out personal information before you’ve cleared that. If they begin pressuring you that the deal will expire if you don’t provide what they need right at that moment, then that’s a bigger red flag. Most companies will let their winners verify whatever they want because they have nothing to hide, and they want the winner to feel comfortable.