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Resource Guide: Protecting yourself against vacation scams

6:46 PM, Mar 11, 2013   |    comments
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Governor's Office of Consumer Protection
The mission of the Georgia Governor's Office of Consumer Protection is to protect consumers and businesses from unlawful, deceptive and unfair practices in the marketplace by enforcement of the laws they administer through education.

Website: http://consumer.ga.gov/

Avoiding vacation scams:

  • Do not give your credit card number to any person or business unless you expect to be charged for a product or service.
  • Be wary of ads that have details and promise a lot for little money.
  • Be cautious of firms that ask you to pay before confirming reservations. Most reputable travel agents will confirm before payment.
  • Deal with an established company.
  • If you are unfamiliar with the firm, request written information on the total cost of the vacation and all items included. Ask about your right to cancel and the availability of cancellation insurance.
  • Be wary of vacation offers that are "good today only."
  • Remember, the better a vacation package sounds, the more thoroughly you need to verify  the details.

Tips to remember:

  • Be wary of incredible deals or free tickets, prizes or memberships. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
  • If you are promised a "free" prize, the company cannot legally charge you any fees in order to collect that prize.
  • Confirm that any company you are dealing with is registered with the American Society of Travel Agents, www.asta.org.
  • Before handing over any payment information, ask for detailed written information about the cost of the vacation, including all items and fees, as well as membership cost. Read the contract carefully. Ask about your right to cancel and get the cancellation policy in writing.
  • If you entered into the sales agreement at a place that is not the company's regular place of business, such as a hotel room, the three-day right of cancellation may apply. If it does, you are legally permitted to cancel the contract within 72-hours for a full refund. In addition, the company is required by law to inform you at the time of sale -- both verbally and in writing -- that you have the right to cancel the contract within 72 hours.
  • If you do decide to purchase a trip or travel membership through this kind of company, use your credit card to pay for it. This way, if you believe you were scammed, you can dispute the charges through your credit card company.

If you feel you have been a victim of a scam, contact the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection or report your concerns to the Federal Trade Commission for their data collection purposes.

If you received a fraudulent vacation offer in the mail, contact the Postal Inspection Service online or by mail:

Website: ehome.uspis.gov

Mailing Address:
Postal Inspection Service
P.O. Box 16489
Atlanta, Georgia 30321-0489
Phone:877-876-2455

ConsumerEd
The Governor's Office of Consumer Protection has designed this website as a comprehensive resource to help consumers make wise decisions.

Website: www.consumered.com/

Internet vacation rental offers:

  • Websites that are comprised of classified ads do not check to ensure that all postings and advertisements are truthful.
  • When purchasing goods or services on websites, you should always deal with sellers who can meet you in person.
  • Buyers should avoid dealing with sellers who require payment via wires through MoneyGram or Western Union, or use of an escrow service.
  • Avoid sellers that tell you that the website that featured the ad will guarantee a transaction or provide payment protection.
  • Consumer Ed recommends that potential buyers use classified ad websites only to buy items you can see immediately. For example, you cannot see a vacation rental until you arrive at your destination.
  • If you have paid someone who failed to deliver on the deal, take action. Request a refund. If the seller does not respond, legal action can be taken. If paid by check, you can report it as theft to your local police department. If you paid by wire transfer, you should alert the receiving bank, your local police, police in the seller's area, and the service you used to wire the money. In many cases, it is difficult to have your money returned.

Bottom line: If the ad appears too good to be true, or you cannot see the item you are purchasing or renting in person, do not turn over any money.

 

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