What's the best way to handle an offer that seems too good to be true? Consider that it probably is, in fact, too good to be true.
There are some clues to look for, however:
•See if the sender's email address is from outside the United States.
•Compare the email address to the resort name -- especially if the facility seems reputable. (The address should match the company name.)
•Assume that any upfront payment on a "free" vacation is one thing only -- a scam.
Once the trip is booked, there are protective measures that can help avoid unwanted problems.
•Work only with reputable travel companies and resorts. (Make sure there are working phone numbers and a confirmed snail mail addresses for the people with whom you're dealing.)
•Double-check and verify all flights, rentals and rooms; and get an entire contract in writing (including cancellation and refund policies).
•Always read the fine print.
The Connecticut Better Business Bureau, however, warns about the following five risks to vacationers, especially once they've set foot in a foreign country.
1. Police Uniform Con: Obeying a person in police uniform is probably hardwired behavior in most people. In this con, crooks take advantage of vulnerable travelers by flashing an official-looking badge and requesting identification. The "police officer," according to the Bureau, then takes off with the wallet or passport.
2.Flat-Tire Robbery: In some countries, the BBB warns, a "helpful" driver pulls alongside your clearly-stickered rental car -- that's how they mark you as a tourist -- to tell you that your tire has gone flat. Resist the urge to pull over and check, Bureau officials caution, victims of this ploy can find themselves robbed at gunpoint.
3.Fellow-Traveler-in-Distress Con: A "fellow traveler" tells you that they need money for a ticket home, or to replace a lost passport or claims that they were robbed and haven't anywhere else to turn. Bureau statistics suggest that this is more often than not a scam.
4.Redirected-Attention Scam: Keep your wits about you if someone spills a drink or food on you, or otherwise captures all your attention during an "accident." This is not isolated to overseas con artists, but it's possibly more effective when you're in an unfamiliar place. While you're dealing with the minor catastrophe, a second player in the con quickly scoops up your handbag, laptop or wallet.
5.Credit Card Fraud: As a general rule, the BBB cautions card users to refrain from debit and credit purchases while overseas. Stick to travelers' checks when possible. Don't hand over your plastic.
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The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. ~St. Augustine