Consumer Corner Column

Consumer Corner: Don’t get scammed by summer travel plans

Release Date: May 28, 2021

By Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt

TOPEKA – (May 28, 2021) – It has been a long time coming, but with the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic beginning to ease, Kansans are starting to venture out and about the country as the summer vacation season gets underway. Unfortunately, that means scammers will also be looking to take advantage of your travel plans to make a quick buck.

Much has changed since the last time Kansans were able to travel freely about the state and country for vacations. Consumers are reminded to use common sense when making arrangements for travel and lodging to ensure the summer plans do not get derailed.

Travel deals

Scammers often target vacationers with texts, emails or phone calls offering an incredible price for what sounds like a dream vacation. Or they offer a “free” vacation if you join a travel club or attend a promotional seminar for their timeshare. As with all offers that sound too good to be true, it’s important to read the fine print. In many cases, travelers arrive at their destination to discover the accommodations aren’t quite what they were promised. Vacation-goers may also be hit with hidden fees or extra charges like bed fees, meal fees, or even fees for sheets and towels.

Offers that seem too good to be true almost always are. Instead of being pressured by sales representatives or promised deals and discounts, it is better for you to initiate the transaction. Do careful research. Many online travel sites offer ways to compare prices and travel options. You can also work with a local, trusted travel agent.

An additional consideration this year is the availability of ground transportation at your destination. Many rental companies are facing limited stock of vehicles as they emerge from the pandemic. Do your homework as you plan your trip to ensure that the vehicle you want is available and be aware of the charges you may incur.

Read the fine print

Before purchasing a vacation package, study the agreement carefully. Make sure you clearly understand all charges and fees. Also, be sure to check refund policies on airfare and hotel rooms, in case you have to cancel.

You should also consider using a credit card to pay for the purchase. In many cases, credit card companies offer fraud protections and you maintain the ability to dispute any charges you did not agree to. Many credit card companies also include travel and rental car insurance in your credit card agreement. Check with your credit card company to see if these options are currently available to you.

Protect your identity

Take only the IDs, credit cards and debit cards you need on your vacation. Make copies of these items and leave them in a secure location such as a safe deposit box so if someone steals your bag while you travel, you’ll know exactly what was lost. Also, make a copy of your health insurance card to take with you, but leave all other important documents safe at home.

If you think you’ve been the victim of a scam, please contact our office at 1-800-432-2310 or online at www.InYourCornerKansas.org.

Remember, having a memorable, relaxing experience with your family doesn’t have to take you far from home. There are many great places to visit right here in Kansas. Go to www.travelks.com to learn more about the great attractions within a short drive from home.

Have a safe and enjoyable summer!

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