Scams and frauds of all stripes are on the rise. Thanks to the unprecedented uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, Americans have lost millions upon millions of dollars to these criminals.
One type of scam we have not discussed here targets seniors who are planning to travel. Although most of us put trips on hold this year, many savvy travelers are already booking next year’s vacations. Once it’s (relatively) safe to travel again, expect a far busier season than usual.
And, unfortunately, expect even more travel scams than usual, too.
You could argue that even legitimate timeshares are a bad use of your money. However, timeshare scams are incredibly common. Some timeshare companies are legitimate, but others use high-pressure sales tactics and hit buyers with hidden fees. Dave Ramsey called timeshares “one of the biggest scams on the market today. Once you are stuck in one, you are stuck in a black hole.”
In addition, be wary of those fliers you get offering a free dinner just for watching a presentation about timeshares. Again, some of these are legitimate businesses just trying to sell a stake in a resort community. However, you run the risk of giving away valuable personal information that could be used for fraud or resold without your permission.
Timeshare resale scams are also an issue for people who want to dump their stake. Con artists posing as resale specialists or real estate agents contact the seller. They guarantee a great price–but they’ll need you to pay upfront costs. If you wire them the money or provide a prepaid Visa, for example, they’ll keep coming up with new fees or unexpected costs until you finally stop paying.
Airbnb changed the way many of us travel. Instead of booking a hotel, we rent a house or a room from a stranger. Sometimes, this works out great! But sometimes it’s a scam.
Fake profiles, fake reviews, bait-and-switch tactics, and other issues plague these sites. One common scam is to charge guests for damages–even though you didn’t damage anything. Scammers may also pressure you to pay them off the Airbnb app, claiming that they can offer you a better rate. Don’t fall for it!
As always, if it sounds too good to be true–it is. Scammers know that people are searching for travel bargains and last-minute deals right now. In fact, they’re counting on it. You should be especially wary of any deals that pop up on your social media timeline. Emails and text offers could also be from scammers.
You’re not going to get a last-minute vacation to Europe for 93% off the retail price. You might be able to book a very cheap cruise for the next year or two because that industry is in a lot of trouble. However, always navigate to travel sites directly instead of clicking links from Facebook or an email.
Scam travel sites will try to steal your personal information and your money. Don’t give them the chance!