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Five simple steps to protect yourself from vacation scams

When you’re planning your next vacation, be on the watch for different types of vacation scams. With so many deals being offered by airlines and travel companies, it’s hard to tell what’s legitimate and what’s fake.

Here are some common vacation scams and how they work:

Free or “discounted” vacation scam

You get a call from someone using a legitimate company name like Expedia, Air Canada, Air Transat or WestJet. The caller tells you that you’ve won a destination vacation or you’ll be awarded a credit or discount on a vacation if you book right away. You’re asked to give personal information to book the vacation and a credit card number to guarantee the trip.

Ticket re-sell scam

A fraudster posts an ad to “re-sell” a purchased vacation package, including airline tickets and accommodations, on a website like Kijiji or Craigslist. After you agree to buy the package, the fraudster urges you to pay in full before transferring it to your name. At the airport on the departure date, you discover that the airline tickets are fake.

Points scam

You get an automated phone call claiming to be from a travel rewards company like Air Miles. The fraudster advises you that you’ve won prizes worth thousands in travel points or claims to have information about your collector account. The fraudster asks you to provide your collector account PIN, personal information or credit card information. The fraudster then uses these details to steal your cash or rewards points.

Vacation rental scam

A fraudster posts an online ad for a destination property for rent. The rent is much lower than for other similar properties. Once you ask to rent the property, the fraudster requests a deposit sent through wire transfer. When you arrive at the destination, you find out that the property doesn’t exist or was never available for rent.

To protect yourself from vacation fraudsters, follow these five simple steps:

  1. If you get an unsolicited phone call about a free or discounted vacation or travel rewards points, ask for the caller’s name and a call back number. If the caller won’t provide this information, end the call.
  2. Ask unknown callers to send information about vacation offers to you in writing.
  3. Never give out personal, credit card or account information over the phone.
  4. Use only known and trustworthy websites to buy tickets.
  5. If possible, go and see a vacation property before you rent it or verify that the property exists and is available for rent by doing some research.

Most importantly, remember that if a vacation offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.

For more information about these scams, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website. And if you think you’re the target of a vacation scam, be sure to report it to the centre.

Source: Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

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