Travel, vacation, and timeshare scams have come to be amongst the top riskiest scams all over the world. And even though the pandemic brought travel to a near standstill at some point, travel and vacation scams are still as prevalent as ever. Most times, the fuss is usually on how to get out of my timeshare or a vacation plan, especially if there are no plans to keep going to that destination for vacations. But not much is being said about how to avoid being a victim of fraudsters.
How can you tell if an offer is for real? Honestly? Sometimes, it’s not easy to tell whether an unsolicited trip or timeshare deal is legitimate. Here’s how to recognize travel or timeshare scams.
Vacation Rental Fraud
This involves posting a destination property for rent online using common sites. The whole fraud process begins when you see the ad while searching for a rental apartment in your desired destination. Most times, fraudsters’ ads always list a rental cost that is considerably lower.
When you contact the seller, you’re asked to pay a deposit, usually by wire transfer. You get to the property only to discover that the rental doesn’t exist, the condition for the rental has been misrepresented, or that it was never even available for rent in the first place.
There are levels to timeshare scams. In some cases, companies lure potential buyers with free stays at a timeshare in exchange for sitting through a presentation. But once you agree to buy the property, that’s where the real fraud begins. It’s either there are booking or maintenance fees that are kept hidden, or in more extreme cases, the company abruptly goes out of business once they secure heavy cash.
Some will not explain all clauses attached, while they are looking for how to get of my timeshare, themselves; so, they call with an offer to sell your timeshare for you. Also, a fraudster can promise a quick sale of your timeshare with a high-profit margin. Different fees are requested upfront before the final sale, and victims are usually asked to transfer funds to bank accounts in a foreign country through a bank-to-bank wire transfer.
Fake Ticket Resales
Fraudsters advertise already sold (or purchased) vacation for sale on familiar websites. If interested, you contact the seller to make further inquiries and agree to go with the package (which sometimes include airline tickets and accommodations). The fraudster then says you need to make full payments before the tickets are transferred to you. You get to the airport, and you’re told that the tickets aren’t valid. How’s that for a smooth one?
Phony Points Rewards
This usually involves fraudsters pretending to represent a company with a points plan. Here, you receive an automated telephone call telling you that you have won a prize worth thousands in reward points. You are then asked to send in personal information, your Collector PIN, or credit card information. Once you give out this information, it’s goodbye to your cash or reward points.