It’s summertime, the living is easy …, and so is the scamming! Scammers don’t take the summer off. In fact, some scams ramp up during this time of year, with predators out there waiting to prey on unwary vacationers.
Be aware of these scams that could make this a summer to remember for all the wrong reasons:
The Front Desk is Calling
An increasingly common scam involves hotels and the unsuspecting traveler. You check in late, you're tired, and your phone rings. The scammer doesn't know when you checked in. He or she is calling random rooms.
They tell you there is a problem with your credit card. Can you please confirm the number? Then, you are asked to read the number one more time, presumably to run it again for payment. The scammers hope you’ll do something that you’d never do when you are at home: give out credit card info to a stranger on the phone.
If you’re travelling and get a similar call from the front desk, hang up and call back or go in person to confirm your payment method.
Best Pizza in Town
Often hotel guests find pizza delivery menus slipped under the doors of their room. The flyer advertises the best pizza in town and a special too good to pass up. Besides, who doesn’t love pizza?
When you place your order, you are asked to pay ahead using a debit or credit card. What happens? You aren’t getting a large supreme pizza (hold the onions, please!), you’re getting a stolen identity.
Try not to pay ahead for orders over the phone. When possible, use cash for quick meals in unfamiliar towns.
Can I Take Your Bags?
A scam that happens faster than you can blink an eye involves a cabbie who unloads your bags at the hotel or airport. As the cabbie is hurriedly unloading your bags and you are moving them away from the curb, the car quickly speeds away with at least one of your bags in the trunk. Before you realize what happened or try to see what cab number you just crawled out of, the cabbie and your bag are nowhere to be found.
Unless it is necessary to have someone else load and unload your bags, try and do it yourself. It will save you extra money in tips as well as potentially stolen bags.
The Summer Rental Scam
It's not the easiest thing on earth to find a summer rental that has all the right elements: a reasonable distance from the beach, the right number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and a “pets welcome” policy. So, when you do find the right one, the tendency for most people is to pounce. Don't be most people.
If you get scammed on a rental, you're not going to know till you show up at the front door and a puzzled person peers back at you. Oh yeah, and good luck finding the rental office, because it's an abandoned drive-in.
The best thing you can do is visit the property in question beforehand. Sometimes that’s not a realistic option. If you are working with a real estate agent, ask for his or her license number, check into it and request references. Look for reviews online along with a phone number to confirm that the address is real and the premises are truly available for rent. Some home rental websites have vetting processes and offer guarantees that will protect you in the case of fraud.
Summer scams are everywhere, and vacation travelers are prime targets. Whether you’re sampling the newest vintages in a Vienna wine garden or rafting in the Grand Canyon, know that travel scams can occur everywhere.
Arm yourself with knowledge about these travel scams, and then… HAVE A SUMMER TO REMEMBER!
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