This year, I heard a radio report of a scammer who went so far as to set-up a fake website to book "reservations" and take advance payments. Of course, the condos for which the reservations were made do not exist or were not affiliated with the scammers. A similar fraud employing fake bookings was reported on the Today Show.
Spring break scams plaguing students
- Proceed with caution when considering deals that seem to offer a lot (five-star hotels, premium airfare, etc.) for a very low price or that require immediate payment to retain a rate. When something seems too good to be true, it generally is.
- Ensure that all details from the purchase are in writing, including the total cost, any restrictions that may apply, and the exact names of the hotels or airlines promised (if applicable).
- Be wary of any claims that say you “won” something, especially if the offer is unsolicited.
- Pay for the vacation with a credit card so you are protected if something goes wrong, and so authorities can more easily track the fraudulent vender. In fact, try to avoid companies that require payments by only cash, check, or wire transfer.
- Go online to see if the company has an established reputation. Look to see if other consumers have complained of hidden fees or sudden price increases.
- If a third party company claims to have purchased airline tickets or hotel reservations, call the companies yourself to ensure that the claim is valid. Some consumers have traveled long distances only to find that the hotel they thought they were staying at does not exist.