Picture this: You've planned the perfect long-awaited vacation with your family. You've got the flights booked, the accommodation looks great, and it all seems almost too good to be true.
And it just might be.
Many travelers are out and exploring once again after the COVID-19 pandemic put their vacation plans on hold. Unfortunately, with the return of travel comes the return of travel and vacation scams.
So, before you start packing your suitcase, it's a good idea to educate yourself about some of the common vacation scams to help protect yourself and your family from fraud.
Here are a few tips to help protect you and your family from fraud this summer season (and beyond).
Be wary of the “perfect” deal
The rental property on the website looks picturesque and has all the amenities you need. But before booking your stay online, make sure you know what you're getting, and that you're booking with a reputable site.
Fraudulent websites have been known to take photos and information from real travel websites and pose them as their own. Other scam sites create fabricated or fake advertisements. If you book from one of these sites, there's no guarantee you'll get the room you paid for, and you may not find out until you arrive at the destination — and by that time, your money is likely gone.
To save yourself that heartache (and headache), do your research by looking at other customer reviews on verified travel sites, and stay away from listings that require you to pay through unusual methods, such as wire transfers.
Book directly from the source
The number of travel comparison sites is staggering, and some aren't exactly what they seem. In some instances, companies lead travelers to believe they're making reservations directly through the airline or hotel, when it ends up being through an unknown third party.
Working directly with the travel provider, either over the phone or through their website, can help you to avoid falling victim to booking scams. Whether you book via phone or online, ensure you receive a confirmation email or booking number for your reservation. Verifying your reservation with the airline or hotel after booking can also help to give you peace of mind.
Credit card reward programs work with reputable travel companies, so before you make any plans, it's a good idea to check which organizations may be associated with your card.
Don't fall for high-pressure tactics
What could be better? You find a fantastic vacation package at a surprisingly low price. There's just one catch: you must put down a deposit immediately to reserve your spot today.
As tempting as it can be to nab what feels like a one-of-a-kind deal, you should probably walk away. TD fraud experts say that high-pressure sales pitches – “accept the offer now or it’s gone forever” – are one way scammers trick their potential victims into handing over money. The truth is, they don't want you to take your time and research the offer because it may be an illusion.
Use a credit card for payment
Any time you pay for a flight or rental property, one option to consider is using your credit card.
E-transfers and wired bank funds are hard to track down if they fall into the wrong hands. However, card networks often provide fraud protection benefits and may be able to reverse the charge if it ends up being bogus.
The travel benefits included with your TD credit card can help you feel more generally prepared for travel but can vary depending on the card you have. You could also be eligible for a range of coverages like trip cancellation and hotel burglary. A great place to start is checking your credit card travel insurance benefits from your card issuer, such as the TD Cardholder Benefit Coverage(s) Guide.
Don't trust third parties when it comes to your passport
If you haven't travelled abroad in a while, you may need to apply for or renew your passport before making your trip.
Make sure you follow the instructions on the Government of Canada website for applying for an adult passport in Canada or renewing an adult passport in Canada and bring the required documents to a Service Canada passport office .
The Government of Canada website warns against paying a fee or giving personal information to anyone who claims they can speed up the application process. According to the Government of Canada site, “No third party, whether they’re a person or a business, can speed up the processing of your application.”
Set up fraud alerts
Sign up for fraud alerts on your personal banking accounts so that you can receive notifications via text if your bank detects suspicious activity on those accounts.
Certain money management tools, such as the TD MySpend app, can provide notifications of account activity in real-time and help customers quickly identify transactions that might be unusual.
Whether you are planning a dream vacation or a quick getaway, remember to do your research, stay informed and play it safe.
Want to learn more about how to protect your family from fraud? Visit the TD Stories fraud hub.
This article is for informational purposes only, and its information should not be construed as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other professional advice. The information provided is general and does not address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity for which you must obtain your own legal, tax or other professional advice.
This story was originally published on September 26, 2022.