Action Line: Beware of false travel ‘bargains’

The Better Business Bureau is warning the public to beware of false travel schemes.

Action Line’s Consumer Alert has tips for those looking for a bargain on a summer vacation.

Searching for one can be a task in and of itself. But finding one that’s cheap or, better yet, free, is nearly impossible. So how do you know if a deal is legit?

“People hear about travel and vacation deals in all sorts of ways,” said Tim Caminos of the Better Business Bureau of Hawaii. “From phone calls and emails, to solicitations in person, there are a number of ways schemers can get to you.

“If you get a postcard in the mail that says you can get a seven-day cruise for $300, and all you have to do is call this phone number and answer a few questions, you might want to take a step back,” he said.

The Better Business Bureau emphasizes that while it certainly is possible to score a good travel deal, many of them often come with strings attached, like strict travel dates or upfront fees.

And since Hawaii is a prime destination for vacation goers, the temptation for a good deal can be hard to resist.

“We’ve definitely heard of businesses, whether they be online or in person, taking a consumer’s money. and you’re talking thousands of dollars here,” Caminos said. “They’re buying a trip for the whole family to Disneyland, and they spend $13,000 (and it’s happened here) and they’re not delivered.”

The Better Business Bureau says during the summer they field about 1,300 calls a month from people around the world who have questions about travel deals in Hawaii. That’s several hundred more than usual than any other time in the year.

“This is something that BBBs across the country have seen, whether it’s to Hawaii, Florida, to the Caribbean. There’s always going to be scams or things out there offering good deals that seem too good to be true,” Caminos said.

Here’s some tips for vacation-hunters.

  • Look at the fine print and understand what you’re agreeing to.
  • Do your homework before signing any documents and spending any money.
  • And as always, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
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