Travel Scams: Plan ahead, use experts to avoid rip offs

By Aaron Gilchrist - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Summer vacation! A time to hit the road, lay back and relax.

Scam artists are counting on that combination to rip you off during your time off.

Travel experts say the deals right now are almost impossible to pass up. So as you make plans to do some traveling, across the country or around the world, conmen are devising new ways to take you for a ride.

Whether jetting off, setting sail, or hitting the road ... the summer vacation season has arrived and with the economy in rough territory, there are great deals to be had, but be careful.

"Those who are out to scam you are going to take advantage of the fact that you are on vacation and you are relaxing," said Martha Meade of AAA Mid-Atlantic.

The website has come out with a list of the top travel scams for 2009.

In Europe, Scambusters warns about phony parking attendants with phony language barriers who ask for big bucks to park your car at a hotel or restaurant.

"A very easy way to tell is do they have a uniform on with the logo of the restaurant you're going to," said Meade.

Another popular scam is the fake travel guide. Maybe you saw the film "Slumdog Millionaire."

The over-eager traveler at a famous venue could spend big bucks to get something very short of what they paid for.

Use guidebooks and websites before you travel or Meade says use a reputable expert.

"Book package that includes things like various modes of transportation, parking, tour guides," said Meade.

Finally, safeguard your credit cards at all times. Meade says one re-emerging scam involves you checking into a hotel late at night and dozing off.

"The phone rings and someone is posing as a representative of the hotel at the front desk, there's been a problem with your credit card number, they need you to read it back to them," said Meade.

"You've just checked in, you assume that things are legitimate.  However, they're not.  Someone has called, asked for a random room number and they now have your credit card."

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