Be alert for scams when planning spring break travel

Spring break this year may look a little different compared to last year. For instance, most colleges were able to have spring break before the pandemic hit.

This year, some colleges have already canceled spring break for students fearing they will bring an outbreak back to campus. Spring breakers have to be smart on what they do and where they go. They need to protect themselves not only from COVID-19 but also vacation scams.

Vacation scams are common. In the last couple years, there’s been a rise of 16% in travel fraud.

The Better Business Bureau offers these tips to avoid travel scams:

· Do your research. Make sure the travel website or travel agency is highly recommended. Check to see if customers have complained about service or refund problems. Consider asking family and friends for recommendations.

· Watch out for the too-good-to-be-true offers like free trips or low-prices. Most of these require immediate purchases to lock in prices. Read the fine print. There may be hidden fees. Also, be cautious of unsolicited offers.

· Get everything in writing, including total costs and restrictions. Check the terms regarding changing dates or canceling. Also, check to make sure you have a confirmation email, which includes where you’re staying and the phone number. Call to confirm your reservations before you leave.

· Ask questions about how the trip will operate. If your questions aren’t answered, don’t use the company.

· Use a credit card. It’s easier to dispute fraudulent activity with credit card companies to get a refund. Don’t use prepaid debit cards or wire money because these are like spending cash. Once it’s spent, there’s no way to get it back. Also, let your credit card company know you’re going on vacation, so they don’t flag your account.

· Consider travel insurance. This will cover any medical emergencies or having to cancel your trip.

· Let a family member, close friend or neighbor know your travel plans.

· Don’t post to social media while you’re gone. If you do post, it lets burglars know no one is home.

For more information, visit BBB.org or call 937-222-5825 or 800-776-5301. The BBB can provide you with a list of BBB accredited businesses in the travel industry and Business Profiles on ones you’re considering. You can also report travel scams to BBB.org/scamtracker.

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