End of year travel? Don’t let scammers take you for a ride
December 2010: SCAMwatch is warning travellers to be cautious if they are approached on holidays by strangers offering travel club memberships which seem too good to be true.
Following a previous SCAMwatch radar on holiday club scams targeting victims via telephone and fax, SCAMwatch has received reports that scammers are becoming more outgoing, approaching victims in person.
Scammers have targeted Australian holidaymakers on the street, in hotels and in bars in the Asia Pacific region. The scammers offer expensive memberships to travel clubs which provide fake accommodation vouchers for five star hotels and resorts in other countries.
Victims report being approached by non-locals and are asked to pay a significant initial deposit by credit card, often for $2,000 or more. To receive a ‘full membership’ consumers must make several follow-up payments.
If you fall victim to this scam the accommodation venues you call or visit are likely to have no knowledge of the vouchers or deals. When you try to contact the travel club business about the fake vouchers you may not be able to get through to them or will receive no assistance in correcting the problem.
SCAMwatch is also advising travellers not to provide any holiday details on social networking sites, including destinations and travel dates. Scammers may be able to gain control of your social networking account or email to pose as you and send distress emails asking for financial help from your family and friends.
Never provide your credit card details and other personal information to someone you don’t know or trust. Not only could you lose your money but the scammers may also commit identity fraud.
If someone approaches you claiming to be from a travel club business, search the company name on the web before you sign up, many scams can be identified this way.
Independently contact the hotels and resorts that the vouchers relate to and ask them what discounts apply. Often scammers have no arrangements with the accommodation providers to offer discounted stays.
When you are on holiday, make sure family and friends have a way of contacting you other than by email - such as a mobile or through your hotel.
If you think you have provided your credit card or account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
You can report scams to the ACCC via the report a scam page on SCAMwatch or by calling 1300 795 995.
Check out other SCAMwatch radars on holiday and travel scams: