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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – On this first snowy day of spring, many of us are thinking about warmer weather and vacation plans.
However, scammers are out there looking to entice you with travel offers that seem to be too good to pass up.
In fact, a new vacation scam has prompted the Better Business Bureau to issue a consumer warning.
“Last year, on a national basis, the BBB received over 7,000 complaints pertaining to the travel industry,” Caitlin Driscoll, of the Better Business Bureau, said.
Scammers are sending travel offer faxes to businesses. Some of them claim to be associated with legitimate business like Orbitz and Trip Advisor.
“This scam is particularly tricky because it’s designed to appear as an interoffice memo that’s coming across by fax. So, employees are more likely to think it’s an offer approved by their employer or their office,” Driscoll said.
One fax was sent to the Better Business Bureau claiming to offer a trip to an oceanfront resort for just $99 per adult.
“There’s also an incentive to be one of the first people to respond to this offer,” Driscoll said.
KDKA-TV’s Julie Grant called the number for reservations listed on the fax. Here is what happened next:
Grant: What company are you?
Operator: This is Caribbean Trips.
Grant: Where are you based?
Operator: We’re in Costa Rica.
Grant: That’s interesting because I was able to dial a 1 800 number to reach you today.
Operator: Yeah, technology has advanced a lot.
She said the price on the flyer does not include airfare and would not provide the names of the resorts.
Grant: If I just wanted to look at the property first to see if I would be interested in staying there, could you tell me the places so I can look them up on my own?
Operator: Umm, I can give you some names, but it doesn’t matter if I give you a name if you don’t have a travel date. This is a serious package and I’m down to two more packages left.
The woman got frustrated when Grant kept continuing to ask questions.
Operator: Give us a call back when you’re ready with travel dates and we’ll take it from there, ok? Have a good day!
At that point, the woman hung up.
The Better Business Bureau recommends doing exactly what Grant did:
- Never give them your credit card information over the phone
- Always get as much information as possible before booking
- Always independently research and verify what they tell you