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4 Travel Scams That Can Ruin Your Family Vacation

By Mason White 5:46 PM February 1, 2014
Plane taking off illustration 

By: Hydar Tomar
Preparing for your family vacation involves more than packing, booking accommodations and hiring a cat sitter. It also means keeping an eye out for the latest travel scams, which can turn even the dreamiest of family vacations into a veritable nightmare. The first step toward avoiding travel scams is to be aware of them. Here are a few to look out for:

Tricky Timeshares and Vacation Packages

You spot an ad or get a phone call about an incredibly rare and affordable timeshare or travel deal for your family. Before you bite, however, keep in mind that the rare offer could very well be a fraudulent thing.

Red flags include any prices that seem way too good to be true and companies that don’t have a reputable website or standing with the Better Business Bureau. Phone calls from folks who try to corner you with high-pressure sales tactics also can be evidence of a scam.

Vacation Vishing

During your travels you get an automated phone call telling you something is wrong with your bank account or ATM card. So you call the number or visit the website given and enter your bank account number, password and other personal information to clear up the problem. Yet if you were a victim of vishing, you just created a problem instead of solving one.

So what is vishing? It is a scam that occurs over the phone, and involves the theft of your identity or personal information by someone who pretends to be connected to a reputable company to trick you into disclosing your information. While vishing can hit at any time, you may find yourself more susceptible when you’re on the road and in need of steady access to your cash.

Always call your bank or financial institution direct to double check if there is indeed a problem with your accounts. You also can protect your identity with services, such as LifeLock, which alert you of any anomalies that could be hazardous to your security.

Hotels (Sort of) Loaded with Accommodations

You check your family into the super accommodating hotel that includes daily paper delivery, Wi-Fi, 24-hour Disney Channel access and daily candy bars left on your pillows. Except all those accommodations, while available for your taking, are certainly not free. Each extra is tacked on to your overall hotel bill, something you only realize at the end of your stay.

Stay on top of hidden or well-disguised fees by getting a written rundown of everything included with your flat hotel rate. Then choose any extras only if you feel they’re worth the price (or your kids beg badly enough).

Useless Travel “Protection” Insurance

Your family is the most precious thing in your life, so that email you got about travel protection sounds like a great idea. You send off your check for the premium, but when your flight is canceled, your luggage is lost or one of your kids needs a vacation-time trip to the doctor, you find out your “protection” doesn’t protect you from anything.

Red flags for faux travel insurance companies include bulk emails or phone calls from “reps” trying to sell it, especially those from companies who are not licensed to sell insurance in your state. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners notes many of your traveling insurance needs already may be covered by your existing health, homeowners or vehicle insurance, and you may not even require additional insurance. You also may prepare for emergencies with an app like Travel Safe, which ensures all pertinent info and instructions are at your fingertips.