Money Tips for College Students
With Summer in full swing, you might be planning and packing up for the vacation of a lifetime. Before you load the car and head out, though, read through our list of four common vacation scams and learn how to avoid them. You don’t want to take a permanent vacation from your hard-earned money!
1. The Bogus Prize Vacation
In this scam, you’ll receive notification via snail mail, phone call, or email, that you’re the lucky winner of an absolutely free vacation stay. You’ll eagerly start planning your trip, only to find that you’re constantly asked to pay various “prize fees,” “taxes,” or “reservation deposits” as the departure date draws near. Your “free” vacation isn’t really free at all!
You might get suspicious and pull out. Or, you might be too deeply ensnared in the trap and only realize that, when you arrive at your destination, you’ve been conned. The vacation destination will either not exist at all, or be so substandard that you’ll need a vacation from your vacation when you get back home.
2. The Dream-Priced Rental
You’re scrolling through Airbnb, searching for that perfect vacation rental house when you suddenly strike gold. There it is! The rental you’ve been looking for – and at a dream price!
You’ll contact the renter and begin making arrangements for your trip. The renter will offer you an even steeper discount if you pay them through a third-party processing site instead of through the Airbnb website. Their likely preference is wire transfer. You’ll then be asked to pay a deposit or even the full price of the rental before you arrive. While it’s completely expected to pay upfront through Airbnb or another rental service, you will not have the same protection if you’re not using the site.
The problem starts when you arrive at your vacation spot – or try to do so, that is. The address you’ve been given does not actually exist, and the gorgeous pictures you’ve been looking through belong to another renter. Sadly, you’re now out of your money and have nowhere to stay during your vacation.
3. Phony “Experiences”
Aside from vacation rentals, sites like Airbnb also allow you to book “experiences,” or days out on the town with locals.
Unfortunately, this platform has become a breeding ground for scammers who offer phony tours to eager vacationers. You might find yourself booking a tour or an experience, and even paying for it, only to find out you’ve been scammed.
4. Travel-Club Membership with a Catch
In these scams, unscrupulous travel companies work hard to persuade you to join their travel club with the promise of significant benefits and kickbacks, including dream vacation stays, discounted cruises, or resort tickets and completely free getaways. Unfortunately, once you’ve joined the club, you’ll be charged high dues for perks that are so hard to access, they’re practically worthless. The discounted tickets will only be eligible for certain vacation dates that probably will not align with your own plans, and the “free” trip you were promised also comes with severe restrictions.
How to Spot a Vacation Scam
Now that you know the many ways you can be conned while planning for or being on vacation, let’s take a moment to review the red flags that will clue you in to these scams:
Scammers never go on vacation. Keep your guard up when planning your getaway and stay safe!
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