Picture this: You've planned the perfect long-awaited vacation with your family. You've got the flights booked, the accommodation looks great, and it all seems almost too good to be true.
Unfortunately, it just might be.
The COVID-19 pandemic put vacations on hold for many people. But now, many travelers are eager to explore once again. Unfortunately, with the return of travel comes the return of travel and vacation scams.
So, before you start packing your suitcase, it's a good idea to educate yourself about some of the more common vacation scams to protect yourself and your family from fraud. Here are a few tips to do just that.
The rental property on the website looks picturesque and has all the amenities you need. But before booking your stay online, make sure you know what you're getting, and that you're booking from a reputable site. Fraudulent websites have been known to take photos and information from real travel websites and pose them as their own. Other scam sites create fabricated or fake advertisements. If you book from one of these sites, there's no guarantee you'll get the room you paid for, and you may not find out until you arrive at the destination — and by that time, your money is likely gone. To save yourself that heartache, do your research to make sure you're choosing legitimate options and stay away from listings that require you to pay through unusual methods, such as wire transfers.
The number of travel comparison sites is staggering, and some aren't exactly what they seem. In some instances, companies lead travellers to believe they're making reservations directly through the airline or hotel, when it ends up being through a third party.
Working directly with the travel provider, either over the phone or through their website, can help you to avoid falling victim to booking scams. Verifying your reservation with the airline or hotel after booking can also help to give you peace of mind.
Many credit card reward programs work with reputable travel companies, so before you make any plans, it's a good idea to check which organizations are associated with your card. For example, Expedia For TD is available exclusively to customers who earn TD Points and/or TD Rewards Points and can be used to book flights, hotels, vacation packages, car rentals and more. You may even be able to access exclusive promotions depending on the card you have.
Some travel sites are designed to make it easy to compare flight and car rental options on your own. So, do you really need a travel agent? Surprisingly, the answer may be yes. These professionals can help you steer clear of non-reputable companies and outright scams, and can advise clients on passport and visa requirements, COVID-19 vaccine and testing requirements in destination countries, and travel advisories. They deal with the logistics of booking flights, hotels and transportation, and offer vacation packages for cruises, resorts or tours.
What could be better? You find a fantastic vacation package at a surprisingly low price. There's just one catch: you must put down a deposit immediately to reserve your spot today.
As tempting as it can be to nab what feels like a one-of-a-kind deal, you should probably walk away. TD fraud experts say that high-pressure sales pitches – “accept the offer now or it’s gone forever” – are one way scammers pressure their potential victims into handing over money. The truth is, they don't want you to take your time and research the offer because it's an illusion. Even if you find a package from a company that seems trustworthy, always make sure to do your due diligence and read the fine print.
Any time you pay for a flight or rental property, TD recommends that you use your credit card. Cash and wired bank funds are notoriously hard to track down if they fall into the wrong hands. However, card issuers often provide fraud protection benefits and may be able to reverse the charge if it ends up being bogus.
The travel benefits included with your TD credit card can help you feel more generally prepared for travel, depending on the credit card you have. You could also be eligible for a range of coverages including burglary or fraud. A great place to start is checking your credit card travel insurance benefits from your provider.
If your current mobile phone number is on file with your TD credit card, you will automatically receive TD Fraud Alerts on your mobile phone any time TD suspects suspicious activity on your TD credit card, or on any additional cardholder's card on your account. Whether you’re at home or travelling abroad, you can reply immediately by text message to confirm if you recognize the transaction and avoid the inconvenience of having your credit card blocked.
If you haven't travelled abroad in a while, you may need to apply for or renew your passport before making your trip. Just make sure you follow the instructions on the Government of Canada website for applying for an adult passport in Canada or renewing an adult passport in Canada and bring the required documents to a passport office or Service Canada location.
The Government of Canada website warns against paying a fee or giving personal information to anyone who claims they can speed up the application process: “No third party, whether they’re a person or a business, can speed up the processing of your application.”
This article is for informational purposes only, and its information should not be construed as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other professional advice. The information provided is general and does not address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity for which you must obtain your own legal, tax or other professional advice.