How to avoid travel scams when planning your vacation

ST. GEORGE — As the weather continues to wreak havoc across the U.S., many Americans are looking to travel to warmer destinations, which is a good time for scam artists to take advantage of excited travelers, but a few tips from TDS can help consumers avoid travel scams and protect hotel and travel purchases.

Across the country, this winter has been harsh. Nearly every U.S. state has been impacted by the extreme weather; so of course, many are planning a trip to get away, TDS said in a press release issued last week.

March is a very busy travel month. With the increase in travel comes an increase in the number of websites offering deals and promotions.

While travelers may be eager to book that cheap hotel room or flight, don’t be fooled by scammers.

According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association, 23 percent of consumers reported being misled by third-party traveler resellers either on the phone or online in 2017, totally $5.2 billion in fraudulent or misleading hotel booking tranactions.

To avoid falling victim to a travel scam, TDS Telecom offers these five tips:

Research. Quickly, you can use Google to research the third-party site you are using. Search for the site’s name and words like “scam,” “complaint” and “review” to see if other consumers have been tricked by this site.

Call to confirm. Call the airline or hotel to confirm your reservation. There may be an issue if they do not have a record of your booking.

Double check the URL. Before clicking on a link, carefully check to make sure there are no misspellings or extra letters, and make sure the site URL begins with https://.

Pay with a credit card. Booking accommodations with cash or check can leave you unable to prove the purchase or receive any help from customer service, like you would if you paid by credit card. If you fall victim to a scam, you can file a report and dispute the charges through your credit card company.

Use accredited apps. Consider using accredited apps like Hopper, Airbnb, HotelTonight, Kayak for deals which have 5-star ratings, plenty of reviews and are highly recommended.

According to TDS, using the best travel apps and good instincts while booking accommodations can make trip planning more enjoyable. If in doubt about a website or deal on a hotel or flight, do not book it.

“Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Do your research, then book it and get ready to relax,” the release says.

For more information on travel scams and safety tips go to trusted resources including the Federal Trade Commission or AARP.

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