Whether you’re sitting by the pool sipping on a fruity cocktail or taking the whole family on an adventurous road trip, you want to make the most out of your spring break.
Believe it or not, there are people who prey on unsuspecting spring break travelers—scammers. As always, keep an eye out for deals that seem to good to be true, because they probably are. Beyond that, watch out for these five popular travel scams this spring break—and read on to learn how you can avoid being scammed.
1. Booking A Hotel Through A Fake Website
Make sure you use a reputable online booking website—or book your stay through the hotel’s official website—to avoid being scammed. The American Hotel & Lodging Association says that online hotel booking scams have affected 15 million hotel bookings and cost $1.3 billion a year.
Not only do these scams mean that you won’t actually have a hotel room to stay at when you arrive, but they also can result in fraudulent credit card charges.
2. Renting A Vacation Home That’s Not Actually For Rent
Here’s how this scam works: Scammers will post fake photos and information about a supposed vacation rental property online. But when you arrive—after sending them your money, of course—you realize the home is not actually for rent.
That’s what happened to Shelly Starnis, who shared her story recently with NBC News. She had wired $1,500 to a bank account in Florida only to later realize that the home was never for rent. The home’s property manager said she turned away five families who fell for the same scam.
Before you book a rental property, speak to the property manager or owner directly by phone. Try to find their phone number on your own. You’ll also want to Google the address to see if it’s in the right location—you may also be able to independently find photos of the home online.
3. Don’t Fall For Cruise Ship Scams
There are tons of cruise scams you should watch out for as you make your spring break plans. Don’t fall prey to emails, phone calls or letters claiming that you’ve won a free cruise or are being offered a stellar deal on a cruise. You may also be targeted by offers that are simply trying to get you attend a sales pitch for a timeshare or a vacation club, using a cruise to lure you in.