Travel Scams Targeting Seniors - Don't Fall For It!

Senior travel scams

With so many seniors travelling, older adults tend to be a prime target for travel scams. You need to take care you don't become a victim, or you may risk ending up in a rundown hotel instead of the 5 star experience you thought you paid for, or worse you could end up with a fat hole in your wallet and no room at all!

We're going to help you by identifying which travel scams you have to worry about and how to sniff them out.

Travel Scams

"Free Trip Scam"

Ever get a phone call or letter letting you know you won a free trip, cruise or vacation? It's very likely fake. Like, very, very, likely fake. Remember, no one gives away anything of high value, without wanting something in return. The old adage "if it's too good to be true, it likely is", remains sound advice.

How to detect a fake?

  • You get a call, text, email or letter out of the blue and don't know the organization that's calling,
  • They ask you to pay some sort of fee to claim your free trip,
  • They ask you for a credit card to verify your identity,
  • It starts off as a robo-call,
  • You're asked to join a travel club,
  • You notice spelling errors in the email or text, and
  • You're sensing high pressure sales tactics.

"Luxury Trip Scam"

In this scam, you're promised a stay at 5 star luxury resort or hotel at a serious discount, but you end up in a run down 2 star resort, with a room facing a wall and a hike to the beach.

How to detect a fake?

  • They promise you a "five star" resort, but won't name the hotel,
  • You can't find any listing or reviews of the hotel or resort online,
  • The reviews of the hotel or resort are not good,
  • Always call the hotel and verify your reservations, amenities, location and room,
  • Ask for a copy of the company's cancellation and refund policy and review it, and
  • Ask about mandatory "fees", like pool, gym, internet, or meal fees.

"Timeshare Scam"

Timeshares can make a lot of sense. You get to own a vacation property, but only pay for a fraction of the cost, making it a lot more affordable. Unfortunately, if you're willing to believe some time share promoters, do we have a plot of land for you!. In some cases time share scammers will have you paying a significant amount in hidden maintenance and management fees, buying units that don't match what was promised and sign hard to cancel contracts.

How to detect a fake?

  • Visit the facilities before buying, don't believe in promotional materials alone,
  • Get all promises and representations in writing,
  • Ask for contacts for management at the head office and verify all claims of salesman with the head office,
  • Talk to other timeshare owners within the development,
  • Ask about your "right of rescission", i.e. your ability to cancel,
  • Check up on the reputation of the management company, and
  • Ask for a copy of the purchase and management company agreements and have your lawyer review it, before signing.

"Vacation Rental Scam"

As more and more people rent vacation homes, rental scammers are taking advantage by advertising low rates for seemingly great properties that are either in much worse condition than advertised or don't exist at all! Sometimes scammers hijack real listings and replace contact information with their own, or fabricate listings with false pictures, This is even happening on well known vacation property rental websites.

How to detect a fake?

  • The rental rate of the property is significantly lower than other properties in the area,
  • The listed owner or manager asks you to wire a deposit or full payment, as opposed to using a credit card,
  • They want you to pay a deposit or the entire amount upfront,
  • Review the contract BEFORE sending any money, and
  • Get the address, enter it into google and verify that your contacts information is consistent across all platforms.

Strategies to Protect Yourself

Sometimes even the best of us can get fooled. If you want to add an extra layer of security to your travel try the following:

  • Always use a credit card to book your travel. If the travel booking turns out to be fraudulent, your credit card company is on the hook, not you.
  • Book your trip directly through the airline, hotel or cruise line's website, or through a reputable aggregator like Expedia or Travelocity.
  • Get a copy of your contracts in advance of payment.
  • Book tours through reputable brands like your university alumni association, National Geographic, AARP, Smithsonian, etc.
  • Rely on recommendations from friends and family.
  • Make sure your check is payable to an escrow account for chartered flights.
  • Verify that your charter flight is on the U.S. Department of Transportation's list of approved charters.
  • Always call to confirm and verify your travel arrangements and bookings (hotel, resort, car rental, cruise, tours and airline).