Spring officially starts on March 20. Millions of students are planning or finalizing their spring break trips. However, each year thousands of them fall victim to scam artists. Your Better Business Bureau can help protect you from becoming another statistic.
Students spend on average about $1,000 a week on a spring break vacations, spending over a billion dollars a year. However, if students aren’t careful, scammers use this chance to part students and parents from their hard-earned cash.
Scammers will send unsolicited e-mails, phone calls, texts or even flood your mailbox with offers of unbelievable deals on a vacation. Some of these deals say you can get a trip at an extremely low price and give you a telephone number to claim your dream vacation, but in many cases there’s always a catch by paying money upfront. Many of these offers leave out the details, like hidden fees that can drain your bank account. Be very suspicious of limited- time-only deals.
When making spring break vacation plans, your BBB offers these tips:
• Watch out for deals that sound too good to be true. Legitimate businesses won’t give away products and services to undercut other companies’ prices.
• Make sure you shop around.
• Check with family and friends. If they’re happy with a Web site or travel agent they’ve used, most likely you’ll be too.
• Consider investing in travel insurance. Travel insurance can provide protection in the event of an accident, an illness, lost luggage or a canceled or interrupted trip.
• Ask about cancellation and refund policies. Make sure you get this in writing
• Avoid hidden costs. Get everything in writing, if you’re pressured to sign, just walk away. Trustworthy companies will give you plenty of time to make a decision.
• Don’t provide personal information, including bank account numbers, credit card information or Social Security numbers until you’ve verified the company is legitimate.
• Always pay with a credit card because you can dispute the charges. Never send cash.
• Verify your reservations with the airline, cruise line, hotel, etc. Make sure you contact them directly to verify all your travel arrangements.
• Ask detailed questions.
Remember, if you decide to take a last minute spring break vacation, there are ways to protect yourself and your money. Make sure to inform a friend/family member about your travel itinerary, don’t travel alone and use hotel safes to store cash and valuables.
Check out companies with your BBB to make sure you’re dealing with trustworthy ones before making any spring break travel plans. Your BBB can provide lists of BBB Accredited companies in specific industries and Business Reviews on ones you’re considering. Visit www.bbb.org or call 937-222-5825 or 800-776-5301.
John North is President/CEO of the Dayton Better Business Bureau. Visit www.bbb.org or call 937-222-5825 or 800-776-5301 for additional information.