Travel Prize Scams are an attempt to trick you into giving up your hard-earned money to claim a “reward,” such as an absolutely free or heavily discounted vacation or holiday.
Here is how this scam works.
Travel Prize Scams often begin after you have been searching for a vacation package online and then sign up to receive further information. Shortly thereafter, you will receive a notification by phone, text, email or by mail claiming that you have won a prize in the form of travel vouchers, often worth as much as $2000 to $3000.
Another form of the scam has you participating in an online survey and you are subsequently notified that you have won a vacation or vouchers for that vacation. Then, when you go to claim your prize, you are told that you are first going to have to buy more travel vouchers. The scammer will then present you with an amazing offer for a heavily discounted vacation package or accommodation to a popular destination, such as Europe, Hawaii, the Pacific Islands. Other scams may offer vacation packages to Florida, California or the Caribbean with tickets to theme parks or cruises that are heavily discounted. However, in reality, the package or the prize does not actually exist.
If you ultimately decide to take them up on this offer, you will be asked to provide your credit card and personal details before they are able to send you your “prize”. If you do hand over your personal details, the scammer will quickly use this information to take money from your bank account. They may also use your personal details to help them commit some other form of identity theft crime.
The actual prize or vouchers that were promised will either never arrive, or if they do, they will be fake and will not be honored when you try to redeem them. Often, the scammers will provide you with the tickets and an itinerary but when the time come for you to travel, the tickets are useless and the business cannot be contacted or does not exist.
Here are some warning signs.
- The amazing offer will come right after you have completed an online survey or you have signed up to receive further information.
- The company making the offer does not provide any contact details beyond an email address or a Post Office box.
- Scammers will try to claim to be affiliated with well-known and reputable businesses. They will then try to convince you that their deal is real.
You Need To Protect Yourself
- If you are thinking of buying a vacation package through a third party, you need find out if the offer is the real or fake.
- You can call the holiday accommodation provider directly. This way you can verify the offer by using contact details sourced independently.
- You should research the business that you are dealing with. You can do this by searching online for reviews.
- You should book through an accredited travel agent to make sure you are getting a legitimate accommodation.
- Be very cautious about the company’s requested method of payment. Different means of payment can offer different protections. Be wary of requests for personal checks and bank or wire transfers when booking your travel.
- If you are booking online, be sure to only choose secure payment methods. If you pay with a credit or debit card, you might be able to seek reimbursement if you don’t get what you pay for.
- You need to be very suspicious of any unsolicited letters, emails, or telephone calls that are offering an unexpected prize or a cash prize.
- You need to ask yourself why should you have to pay any upfront money for a prize when that sum could be deducted from your winnings.
- Don’t ever send money or give out your personal details to people who may have contacted you out of the blue or who you don’t know and trust.
- Always seek out independent advice if you are unsure or if you have any doubts as to whether an offer or request is genuine.
- Search the company’s name and information online to check and see if there are any complaints or fraud alerts placed on them.
- It is possible that you may you receive an unexpected request for money from what appears to be a friend or family member. You should contact your friend or family member through other means to verify if the request is genuine before responding or sending money. Do not use any of the contact details in the scammer’s message. If you do actually send money and it is a scam, neither you nor your friend are going to ever see the money again.
Be Aware Of Social Networking Scams
Scammers have also tricked many social networking users into turning over their user name and password. Once they have this private information, they will be able to gain control of your account and pose as you. They then may attempt to use your account to send fake distress messages to your friends and family claiming that you are in trouble and that you need money urgently and quickly. Scammers will often commit this scam while you are traveling. They will have obtained your travel information if you have posted your vacation plans on your social networking profile. Scammers can also utilize this scam by way of email if they are able obtain access to your email account.
Have you been scammed?
If you think you may have provided your personal account details to a scammer, you should contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
To Report a Scam
If you think you’ve been targeted by a prize scam, report it to the FTC.
You also can contact your:
- State Attorney General Office
- Local Consumer Protection Office
- Local Media’s Consumer Help Lines
- If the prize promotion came in the mail, you can report it to the U.S. Postal Protection Service
Thanks very much for reading my post on Travel Prize Scams. I hope it provided a service to you and please feel free to forward it to family and friends. Also, if you have comments or questions, please leave them below. If you know or another scam that needs to be addressed, leave that information in Comments and I will investigate. Take care.