Beware of an increase in travel scams during the summer

As the rainy spring season gives way to the warmth of summer, many families are eagerly planning their summer travel adventures. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the 16-week period between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend has historically been one of the busiest for traveling domestically in the U.S.

While the pandemic has affected the rate of traveling for the past year, recent data suggests that traveling is beginning to make a comeback. While still less than its pre-pandemic levels, air travel has seen a marked increase in recent months, with about 465,000 domestic flights recorded in March – a significant difference from the May 2020 all-time monthly low of about 180,000 flights.

Unfortunately, with increased opportunities to travel, scammers are looking to take advantage. In the first six months of 2021, Americans have lost over $370,000 to travel scams across the nation and over $190,000 just in the past two months, according to reports generated by BBB Scam Tracker. 

The rate of travel scams generally increases during the summer months. They can take a variety of forms, either as sweepstakes, airfare, timeshare or rental scams and can completely disrupt even the most meticulously planned travel schedule. Spontaneous traveling can be a lot of fun – but it is important that travelers spend the time to research their lodging arrangements, rentals and any deals or discounts that they are offered by a business and do not allow a sense of urgency to rush them through the decision-making process.

The top five most-reported travel scams are:

Vacation rental con. These con artists lure in vacationers with the promise of low fees and great amenities. The “owner” creates a false sense of urgency – such as telling potential clients that another vacationer is interested in the rental – to get payment up before doing sufficient research or questioning the legitimacy of the ad.