You are scrolling through Facebook and you see this eye-catching ad! It gives this amazing deal on an all-inclusive resort in Mexico (that you can’t find with a quick google search) for 2 weeks for $2,000 including flights. AMAZING!
Does this sound too good to be true?
A recent McAfee survey of Canadians found that an incredible one in eight had been scammed or nearly scammed when booking a vacation online. That means hard-earned vacation money was inadvertently given to a probably not so hard-working fraudsters (and I will leave the other not so nice adjectives out).
So, how do you ensure you are not the victim of vacation scams? Here are 3 tips to ensure your vacation planning is as enjoyable as the vacation experience.
1. If the offer is too good to be true? It probably is!
If you ‘entered’ (as in you can’t remember entering) a draw and won a free trip with Air Canada Vacations, Westjet or another vacation company, you probably didn’t win it. Bubble burst – sorry!
You can, however, do your due diligence.
In the case of a ‘too good to be true’ deal, google the company and see if it exists, call their phone number and check with local agencies (consumer protection or travel associations) if the company is registered with any of them. If this all gives you the heebie-jeebies, back away – just back away!
If you have won a free trip, ask them to email you the details. Then hang up and call general reservations on the website of the company they are portraying i.e Westjet or Air Canada and make sure they know what the competition was about. If the caller is being pushy and saying you must confirm with your credit card right away, back away – just back away!
2. Make your travel reservations with a reputable company
In BC, all travel agencies must be registered with Consumer Protection BC. The same is applicable in Ontario through TICO. By registering, these companies have submitted financial reports to the agency to verify they are a legitimate business. You can check license status on the Consumer Protection BC website.
If you choose to book yourself, ring the company, ask them questions about the company, how it operates, where they are located and how they choose destinations/hotels/activities to sell. Then hang up and call back. See if you get the same answers. A quick google search should yield the same results (but still confirm by phone calls!). Again, if this all gives you the heebie-jeebies, back away – just back away!
2. Never send money via bank transfer!
If the person you are speaking with regarding your booking is being pushy, this is a sign it is a scam. NEVER send money without a complete invoice and without vetting the company beforehand (such as above). If they ask for a direct money transfer, alarm bells should ring. When you ring the bank to ask them if the details are legitimate if they say ‘we can’t confirm that these details are correct’ back away – just back away!
Unfortunately, victims of scams are not just the elderly. It is people from every demographic of society! The only way to ensure you are going on a legitimate vacation is spending a little bit of time to verify that the information you are being told is accurate and valid with a little bit of research. If anyone is being pushy, will not give you details about their company or fail to provide supporting documents for the offer they providing you, back away – just back away!
“Not all classrooms have 4 walls” – Anon
Bronwen is a Travel Agent at Personal Travel Management as well as an avid traveller. She works with her clients to provide memorable experiences that families will talk about for years to come. No family is too small or too big. Her extensive contact list around the world ensures your needs, wants and interests are reflected in your travel arrangements. Having travelled extensively herself, coming from Australia and travelling in Asia, the Pacific, Africa, Europe, Canada, United States and New Zealand she can create the perfect itinerary for you and your family.