Attorney General: Consumer Guide To Travel Scams



Problems with travel scams regularly rank near the top of all complaints received by various agencies of the State of Connecticut. The most frequently cited complaints include bargain or "free" travel certificates and promotions sponsored by timeshares, campgrounds and vacation clubs.

Have you ever received an official looking certificate notifying you that you have been selected to receive a wonderful vacation offer? All you have to do is make a call within 72 hours to claim your vacation and much to your dismay, the first question the travel promoter asks is whether you have a credit card.

Have you ever received a certificate for travel from a merchant for purchase of merchandise and are not informed that you have to sit through a timeshare or campground presentation, or that, if you are fortunate enough to redeem the certificate, you have to pay significant hidden costs?

Unfortunately, too many "winners" have turned up as big losers -- falling victim to scams that turn vacations into nightmares. By arming yourself with some basic knowledge about the travel industry, you can protect yourself from becoming the victim of a travel scam.

Signs of travel scams

  • You are pressured to provide an immediate response to receive this "fabulous" opportunity.
  • You are required to make advance payments without any written contract, leaving you without proof of the services you are supposed to receive.
  • You may only carry out the transaction by telephone.
  • You are required to come to a "showroom" to claim your prize and then find out you have to sit through a sales presentation.
  • Do your homework

  • Before agreeing to travel services, look for established, reliable travel agencies.
  • Don't be pressured into a decision -- take your time.
  • When purchasing travel packages, get the names of all hotels, airlines, car rental agencies, restaurants involved. Check to confirm all reservations.
  • Find out exactly when airline tickets will be delivered to you -- timeliness of ticket and boarding pass delivery can be a problem.
  • Don't give your credit card number or bank account information when dealing with a telemarkerter, but do pay for travel services with a credit card so that you may pursue a chargeback if the services were not received or not as represented.
  • Watch out for hidden charges for airfare, hotel, car rental, airport or port transfers, meals, gratuities, taxes, parking, and upgrades.
  • Get everything in writing so that you may be aware of all of the details of your travel plans and know the extent of hidden charges.
  • Inquire about refund policies if the travel provider cancels or if you should cancel. Ask if there are special provisions for illness or a family emergency.
  • Inquire about the availability of cancellation insurance. Be sure to obtain a complete description of the scope of coverage of the insurance.
  • When in doubt, hang up the phone. You are not being rude if the caller is not being cooperative in providing you with satisfactory answers to your questions.

    If you feel you have been scammed, COMPLAIN to the appropriate state and federal agencies.

    To receive more information on travel scams contact the following:

    Attorney General's Office
    110 Sherman Street
    Hartford, Connecticut 06106
    860-808-5420 (Hartford area)
    Department of Consumer Protection
    Better Business Bureau
    U.S. Department of Transportation
    Office of Intergovernmental and Consumer Affairs
    (air travel complaints)
    American Society of Travel Agents
    Consumer Affairs Office
    P.O. Box 23992
    Washington, DC 20026-3992
    (travel agent complaints)

    Content Last Modified on 12/1/2011 11:56:21 AM