Vacation Scams to Avoid

Let’s be honest: most of us probably work a bit more than we ought to. We put in long hours, and rack up time in the office (or, with increasing frequency, at our home office). And after weeks and months of hard work, there’s nothing like taking a long overdue vacation.  After all that hard work, the last thing you need is to be taken advantage of with a travel scam. That’s right: the unfortunate truth is that vacation scams are everywhere these days. Email, social media, telephone, and virtually every other form of communication has become a means for scammers to attempt to rope in new victims.

Vacations are a wonderful opportunity to relax, spend time with family, and recharge your batteries. In some ways, taking time off makes you more productive once you’re back at the office. Whether you’re heading to the beach, up into the mountains, or to a big city, it’s always exciting to book a trip. In fact, making the arrangements and planning out the details can sometimes be half the fun.

Fortunately, it’s possible to avoid these kinds of scams as long as you practice a little vigilance. Read on to learn about the most common types of vacation scams, and how you can avoid them.


Phone vacation scams

Vacation Scam Call

Have you ever answered your phone, only to be greeted by a pre-recorded message informing you that you’ve won a free vacation somewhere? Most people have; and, unfortunately, a lot of these calls are actually scams.

Generally speaking, automated calls are a bad sign. If you’re not getting a call from a real person, you may be dealing with a less than reputable company. Additionally, any robocall that asks you to pay a fee upfront is likely an attempt to scam you. When someone asks you to pay $300 in order to claim your “free” vacation, that’s the time to hang up the phone.


Sweepstakes-style scams

Sweepstakes scam

This is similar to a phone call scam, except that you might receive notification of “winning a trip” via email or regular mail. Anytime you’re being notified of winning a competition that you never entered into, you’re probably in scam territory. It might be tempting to click on an email link, enter your personal info, and “claim your prize,” but take our advice: don’t.



Vacation rental property scams

Vacation Rental Scam

These kinds of scams rely upon the potential victim’s level of comfort with the variety of online vacation rental booking websites now in existence. They provide you with a dozen or more photos of your “vacation home,” and require that you pay the rental fee upfront. When you arrive at your destination, the property doesn’t actually exist. To avoid these kinds of scams, steer clear of websites without a solid reputation: ensure that wherever you’re signing up for a vacation rental, there’s a way to verify other users’ experiences.  Choose a property with solid reviews and a history of satisfied renters.  They’ll most likely have all the proper requirements including liability insurance in place.


In summary: is your vacation package legit?

At the end of the day, it’s up to your to determine whether a vacation opportunity is legitimate or not. Regardless of where you encounter a particular vacation package–over the phone, via email, on a website, or through social media–there are a couple of overarching strategies for determining whether it’s real or a scam.

First, do your research. Check for reviews. Google the address, the company, or the name of the rental. If you find plenty of positive verification, it’s less likely to be a scam.

Second, avoid paying for fees upfront. Anything that seems questionable and requires a large upfront fee is likely a scam.

Finally, trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t book it. It’s not worth risking your vacation.

That’s it! With these tips in mind, you’re sure to enjoy your next trip.