Better Business Bureau

Holiday Travel Scams Expected to Spike Amid Surging Prices, BBB Warns

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The Better Business Bureau is warning Wednesday of an expected spike in holiday travel scams as prices see a surge.

Similar to the summer months, the BBB said people may think they are receiving a holiday "deal" with the price of flights, rental cars and lodging increasing. However, officials said it could be a sign of a scam.

“Being a bargain hunter is wise, but being careful is smarter when there could be thousands of dollars on the line,” said Steve Bernas, president and CEO of the BBB serving Chicago and Northern Illinois.

People could receive a call, text message, flyer in the mail or online ad promising free or low-cost vacations, the BBB warned.

These so-called "deals" could result in hidden fees or an entirely fake experience, according to officials.

“There are several common travel scams,” Bernas added. “Travelers should be leery of free vacation offers, robocalls offering vacation deals at discounted prices, vacation home scams – where the scammer hijacks real rental listings and advertises them as their own, or they make up listings that don’t exist, and fake charter flights that may include lodging and sightseeing. After you pay for the package, you find it’s all a scam.”

Here are some warning signs to recognize the scams:

  • An offer for a "free" vacation for which you have to pay
  • Organizers are not giving you specific details on the travel order, but using terms like "five-star" and "luxury" to describe the trip
  • The only way to pay for your "vacation" is by a wire transfer, gift card or cryptocurrency
  • Pressure to make a rushed decision about a vacation package or rental
  • Premium vacation properties are advertised to you for super cheap prices

The BBB warns people to not sign or pay until fully aware of the terms of the deal and get a copy of the cancelation and refund policies. Officials also advised that people do their research before booking and never pay using wire transfers, gift cards or cryptocurrency.

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