Avoiding travel scams when planning for spring break

Mar. 7—Spring break offers families and students an opportunity to travel during a vacation from school. However, it also provides a chance for scammers to offer fraudulent vacation rentals, third-party booking sites and travel agencies designed to appeal to the consumer looking to get away. With spring break for many Texas school districts occurring Mar. 13-17, BBB reminds consumers to be wary of travel-related scams as they make their plans and finalize payments.

From February — Mar. 31, 2022, US consumers reported over $150,000 lost to travel scams to BBB Scam Tracker and more than 60,000 reports to the FTC in 2022 resulted in over $100 million lost. Scammers often take advantage of consumer habits and capitalize on trending internet searches, enticing consumers with great deals to popular destinations or all-inclusive packages. While these scams persist year-round, they often increase in frequency during periods of increased travel, such as spring break and the holiday or summer season.

To assist consumers in identifying and avoiding the most common travel scams, BBB provides the following brief descriptions of the top five most-reported travel scams:

—Vacation rental con. These con artists lure vacationers with the promise of low fees and great amenities. The “owner” creates a false sense of urgency — such as telling potential clients that another vacationer is interested in the rental — to get payment up before doing sufficient research or questioning the legitimacy of the ad.

—”Free” vacation scams. When a cruise or travel company advertises a vacation as

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