Avoid these situations while planning summer vacation - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Avoid these situations while planning summer vacation

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RICHLAND, WA — With summer just around the corner, consumers are dreaming of sunbathing, sightseeing and spending quality time with their loved ones. Better Business Bureau Serving the Northwest warns that con artists are plotting to target consumers looking for the best travel deals.

Consumers across the Northwest reporting to BBB Scam Tracker have lost an estimated $50,000 to nearly 300 travel scams in the past year. Of those scams, 152 were reported from Washington with over $5,000 lost and nearly $8,000 attempted from scammers. According to the 2016 BBB Annual Risk Report, the median loss for travel and vacation scams for the in 2016 was $847 and susceptibility was also high at 38 percent of reports involving a loss.

Don’t let scammers bring frustration to your vacation. BBB suggests watching out for these common travel scams:

  • Hoax sites: It’s easy for scammers to create a travel booking website that looks legitimate. Once the scammers receive payment from a consumer, the “business" will cease contact. It’s best to book with a company that shows a good track record for appeasing its clients. To find a reputable travel business visit bbb.org/northwest.
  • Fake vacation rentals: Watch for fake rental listings and too good to be true deals. Con artists will post listings of properties that either isn't for rent, doesn’t exist or are significantly different than pictured. Deal directly with the property owner or manager and avoid paying with a prepaid debit card or wire transfer.
  • Be Wi-Fi Wise: Avoid using public Wi-Fi, including hotel internet access, for online banking or other financial account management. With just a click of a button, fraudsters can easily create fake Wi-Fi hubs, then gain access to personal information and passwords.
  • Hotel check-in tricks: It’s common for hotels to call and check in with guests shortly after they arrive, but be on guard if the caller asks for personal information, like credit card numbers, to finalize check-in. Never give out financial information over the phone. Instead, visit hotel management in person.
  • Delivery menus and coupons: These deals are usually slid under the hotel door and can be enticing for busy travelers who need a quick bite to eat. The trick comes when a customer calls to place the order and is asked to give credit card info over the phone. Don’t fall for it! Check with the front desk before placing an order to ensure the restaurant is real or offer to pay when the meal is delivered.
  • Wait to post selfies: It can be tempting to post vacation photos on social media while still traveling, but be cautious if your home is unoccupied. This makes it all too easy for burglars to locate an empty house available for them to rob. Save the Facebook album for after the trip is over.

To learn more about safe traveling visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Travel Scams website. Report travel scams to local law enforcement and at bbb.org/scamtracker