Better Business Bureau is urging consumers to educate themselves on the early warning signs of fake travel websites before making vacation plans during the summer months.
With modern technology, it’s very easy for a scam artist to create an appealing website, and lure customers in with deals that are too good to be true. Which is why it’s so important for consumers to stay vigilant and to know the signs of a scam.
Tips to spot a fake travel website:
- Start with the company’s social media icons. If the business has icons leading to their Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram accounts, check those out first. Often times scam artists will link to facebook.com instead of facebook.com/THEIRCOMPANYNAME. If they do have social media accounts, check their activity and see if any other users have left reviews or voiced complaints.
- See any distorted or pixelated images? Often times, internet criminals don’t take the time to crop or resize their images properly. This can be an easy way to tell if a travel website is fake.
- Watch out for spelling and grammatical errors. Legitimate businesses can make mistakes, but if a website is full of errors, it’s likely a scam. This may be due to the fact that many scams originate outside of the United States, and the creators of the websites are using online translators.
- Watch out for deals that are too good to be true. If the business is offering a trip to the Bahamas for only $199 a person, it’s probably a scam. When something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Book your travel package with a reputable business– Visit bbb.org to see what other consumers’ experiences have been like with a prospective travel broker or to select one from the BBB Accredited Business Directory.
- Use a credit card — You can dispute a charge if a problem arises or you are defrauded, but make sure you keep your paperwork in order and take copies of all reservation and payment documents with you before heading to the airport.
- Dig deep into the fine print — Can you cancel the booking? On some unethical third-party sites, you cannot, or you may be hit with an exorbitant penalty for doing so. Look for any fees or surcharges within the terms or hidden behind vaguely labeled hyperlinks.
- Don’t click right away — Questionable websites often show up in the form of paid ads in an online search. The sites’ prices might be attractive, but is the broker ethical?
- Call the hotel or resort directly — Check to see whether there might be any undisclosed fees, and to make sure that the site has properly booked the accommodations, especially if you have special needs, and to make sure any other specific requests have been taken care of.
If you fall victim to a fake travel website fraud, call your credit card company and contact the Federal Trade Commission, at FTC.gov. If you have a dispute with an established travel broker, file a complaint with Better Business Bureau.
For more information visit bbb.org/atlanta.