BBB warns of spring break scams - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

BBB warns of spring break scams

Posted: Updated:

WSIL -- With the colder weather that is in our forecast, many people will be looking forward to taking a vacation for spring break. Before you book your trip, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) wants to warn you to be wary of travel deals that seem too good to be true.

Nationally, the BBB received more than 5,000 complaints in 2018 concerning travel agencies and services. In most of these cases, consumers reported that they were misled by travel offers that failed to deliver as promised. In other cases, consumers registered complaints about paying for travel arrangements that were never made. Many online sites offer deals on travel. Some are legitimate, while others may be scams.

Here are some BBB tips to avoid disappointment with travel deals: 

  • Book through a reliable travel agent or travel site. Check its BBB Business Profile at bbb.org.
  • Get details about your trip in writing. Be sure to confirm the details, such as total cost, any restrictions, flights, hotel reservations and car rental. Also, check penalties for cancellations.
  • Pay with a credit card. Paying by credit card offers the most protection should something go wrong because you can challenge the charges.
  • Consider purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance provides coverage for particular perils which are specific conditions under which it will pay claims.
  • Use caution when considering deals. If a deal or package offers a lot for a very low price, be wary. If something seems too good to be true, it usually is.
  • Be wary of claims you "won" a trip. Generally if you've truly won something, it will be given to you as a gift.

Grandparent Scam

Spring break is also when scammers pull the so-called "grandparent scam" with so many students on the move.

"This scam tends to pop-up in the spring, when students travel away from home, and family members tend to worry about their general safety," said Michelle Corey, BBB St. Louis president and CEO. "Scammers will call family members and pretend to be a child, grandchild or a friend of the child who has run into a difficult situation while traveling. The scammer may claim to have been arrested, mugged or hospitalized and make urgent pleas for money."

Receiving a frantic phone call may scare people into letting their guard down, but BBB encourages everyone to make sure they know signs of this scam. If you get such a call, resist any request to send money immediately. Ask for a phone number to contact the person back, then check with other relatives to determine the whereabouts of the person who is allegedly stranded. A request for you to send money by Western Union, MoneyGram or a prepaid card.

Here are some BBB tips to avoid the grandparent scam:

  • Know the red flags. Typically, the grandparent receives a frantic phone call from a scammer posing as a grandchild, or a friend of the grandchild. The "grandchild" explains that he or she is in some kind of trouble and needs help. The "grandchild" pleads to the grandparents not to tell his or her parents and asks that they wire thousands of dollars for reasons such as posting bail, repairing a car, covering lawyer's fees or even paying hospital bills.
  • Stay calm. Emergency scams count on an emotional reaction. It's important to resist the pressure to act quickly or react to the caller's distress. Tell them you'll call back and ask for a number; then contact your grandchild or another family member to determine whether or not the call is legitimate, and confirm the whereabouts of the grandchild.
  • Ask a personal question, but don't disclose too much information. If a caller says "It's me, Grandma!" don't respond with a name, but instead let the caller explain who he or she is. One easy way to confirm their identity is to ask a simple question that the grandchild would know such as what school he or she goes to or their middle name. Your family might consider developing a secret code or password that can be used to verify a true emergency.
  • Do not wire money. Wiring money is like giving cash-- once you send it, you can't get it back. If you are asked to wire money based on a request made over the phone, especially to locations overseas, consider it a serious red flag.
  • Communicate. Students should share travel plans with family members before leaving the state or country. Parents are encouraged to let extended family members know when their child is traveling.
  • Share information. Students should provide cell phone numbers and email addresses of friends they are traveling with in case of an emergency. Family members should remind students to be cautious when sharing details about travel plans on social media.

Most Popular

Stories
Videos
Slideshows
loading...

Most Popular

Stories
Videos
loading...
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2019 WSIL. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.