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7 tips to help avoid vacation scams
It’s a nightmare scenario: you’ve made all the arrangements for an exciting vacation with your friends or family, only to find that you’re being charged a bunch of unexpected fees. Or worse, you discover that the property you thought you’d be relaxing in was all just an illusion.
Whenever travel is booming, there’s an increase in vacation scams hoping to take advantage. The good news: you can avoid getting caught up in a scam by knowing some of the tell-tale signs of a fraudster and by learning some security tips. Here’s how to make sure you’re getting exactly what you expect when you book your next getaway.
1) Beware of vacation rental scams
Your rental property may look picturesque and have all the amenities you need—but how do you know what you see is what you get? Before booking your stay online, make sure you’re getting the real deal. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns that fraudulent websites steal photos and information from actual rental listings. Others create advertisements that are completely fabricated. You may not find out until you actually arrive at the destination and by that time, your money is likely gone.
To protect yourself from vacation rental scams, only shop on reputable travel sites. Another tip? Walk away from any listings that require you to pay with wire transfers or cryptocurrency. Those sources are much harder to trace, which makes them the favored payment method for scammers. Think you’re caught up in an online fraud? Report it by contacting your local police department and visit our Security Center to learn what other steps you should take to get back on track.
2) Book directly from the source to avoid travel booking scams
The number of travel-shopping sites out there is staggering, and some aren’t exactly what they seem. According to AAA, in some instances, companies lead travelers to believe they’re making reservations directly through the airline or hotel. While in reality, they’re simply middlemen who may charge hidden fees or fumble your reservation.
To steer clear of any trouble, call the provider directly or visit their official website. You can even go a step further, by verifying your reservation with the airline or hotel prior to your vacation. An added bonus: you get to rest easy knowing you’ve covered your bases.
3) Hire a travel agent
Travel sites make it easier than ever 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 stay far away from any non-reputable companies and outright travel scams. They’re also your advocate if something goes wrong during the trip. The Better Business Bureau suggests you seek out travel agent referrals from people you trust so you know you’re in good hands.
4) Don’t fall for high-pressure sales tactics
You’re offered a fantastic vacation package at a surprisingly low price. Score! What could be better? There’s just one catch: you have to reserve your spot today.
As tempting as it can be to snag that one-of-a-kind deal, you should take a step back and do your due diligence to research the deal and company before acting. Experts say high-pressure sales pitches are one of the tell-tale signs of a tourist scam. The truth is, they don’t want you to take your time and research the offer because they know it’s an illusion. Even if you find a package from a company that seems trustworthy, take your time and read the contract carefully.
5) Use a credit card for payment
Any time you pay for a flight or a rental property, many industry experts recommend 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.
6) Watch out for travel insurance scams
The next time you book a vacation, you may come across a travel insurance provider offering you extra protection against unexpected cancellations or interruptions. The only problem: that perk doesn’t exist with most standard policies. For that, you generally need something called “cancel for any reason” coverage. It typically costs about 50% more than a base package, but may be money well spent. In order to avoid a travel insurance scam, just remember to make sure you’re buying it from an established company and remember to read the fine print.
7) Avoid travel document scams
If you haven’t traveled abroad in a while, you may need to apply for or renew your passport before your trip. Just make sure you complete your documents on the actual State Department site—not a fake website designed to look like the real thing. The FTC warns that these copycat webpages often charge higher fees or ask you to pay for services that should be free.
So, the next time you’re vacation planning, simply remember to do your research, stay informed and play it safe. Bon voyage!
How to report fraud and identity theft to TD Bank
If you think your TD accounts or cards have been compromised, visit our Security Center to learn how to report the fraud and contact us for help right away.
- Lock your credit and debit cards
- Report a lost or stolen card:
- TD Bank ATM or Visa® Debit Card: 1-888-751-9000
- TD Bank Visa® Credit Card: 1-888-561-8861
- Report identity theft or a phishing attempt: 1-800-893-8554
- Forward suspicious emails to: Phishing@TD.com
- Contact your local police department or call The Federal Trade Commission (FTC): 1-877-382-4357
- Report fraud to the credit bureaus:
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
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