With more and more Americans getting vaccinated every day and communities across the country opening back up, there’s a lot to look forward to. You may even be starting to make plans to see friends and family near and far. But before you book those plane tickets or nail down hotel reservations, it’s important to know that there are more fake travel websites than ever before .
Unfortunately, these websites are trying to take advantage of people who want to see their loved ones as pandemic restrictions lift. These scams come in a number of forms, where they often promise travel or hotel deals that are infinitely better compared to bigger competitors, offer different types of “travel insurance” or fees that don’t appear anywhere else, or give away “free” trips that actually cost you money.
So, how can you make sure you don’t inadvertently book through one of these websites? Here are a few things to know.
Question deals that seem to good to be true.
Often fake travel websites will suck you in with lower prices and better deals than virtually every other company out there. If their numbers are way lower than what the rest of the market is offering, you may want to take an extra beat and double-check the site’s legitimacy.
Search the Better Business Bureau database.
One of the best first steps you can take if you’re booking on any travel website is to look it up on the Better Business Bureau, which can provide more information, reviews, and complaints about an organization.
Do a Google search of a travel company.
Type the name of the travel company and “reviews” or “complaints” into Google. If many search results are popping up and you’re seeing constant negative feedback, it may be worth giving that website a second look before handing them any personal information.
Look for an address and other contact information.
If you can’t find a legitimate address for a travel company or any way to contact a customer service department, there’s a high likelihood it’s a scam. You may want to take your business elsewhere!
Don’t pay any fees before you book your trip.
Some travel scams requires users to pay fees or enter credit card information upfront to “reserve” spots or book trips before you even provide a destination or make other arrangements. If a website is asking for money prior to helping you do anything, you should be suspicious.
Similarly, some scams reach out to people and congratulate them on winning a free trip but ask for a small amount of money to be paid upfront before receiving it. If you don’t remember entering a sweepstakes or have never heard of the company offering it, look up their contest rules and reconsider accepting it.
It’s such an exciting time right now to see friends and family, and taking a few of these steps can help you do it!