Jun 18th, 2012 | By | Category: Senior Travel

Travel Scams and Fraud Issues

Senior travelers, what do you think of when you hear the words “travel scam”? Maybe you think of the faxes advertising amazingly low fares for a vacation that expires that evening. If you call, you’d possibly find out that your travel is free but your hotel stay is charged at an incredibly high rate. There are “scammers” out there everyday seniors, so read on.There are means to avoid being travel-scammed and the following may be of aid to you and in fact may be crucial to the success of your trip.

MSNBC says “watch it”

According to the National Fraud Information Center, the average loss to fraud in 2004 was $803 per incident — up from $468 two years before. While travel is not at the top of the fraud list, it is number two in frequency of complaints. MSNBC lists their Top 5 travel scams that senior travelers will want to pay close attention to avoid being ripped off.  Here’s a great name and site called Scambusters that provides details on both travel and cruise scams.

I can speak personally.  My daughter and I arrived in Rome at the train station from the International Airport.  We needed a taxi to go to our hotel just behind the Coliseum.  In a hurry we took the first taxi we came upon and the driver was “more than courteous!” We got ripped off for 45 euros as the trip back from our hotel was only 9 euros. Heads up. It was my own fault and I should have known better having been to Europe many times. When there is no taxi-meter, jump out.

I wrote earlier about a scam in Paris where a young fellow “finds a gold ring” and asks if it is yours. It sure looked real and I gave him some change. When I got home I found out that it was only copper that looked like gold. You will want to focus on outsmarting the con artists when you travel and avoid these kinds of negative experiences. Travel and Leisure Magazine has some great ideas on just how to do this.

Seniors, Listen to the Experts

My travel hero is Rick Steves. He is a dedicated travel guru and an expert on travel everywhere in the world. He focuses here in Europe and some of the scams that take place all over the continent. I had not heard of the “fake pigeon poop” scam, but be aware of this one and all the others that Rick advises. Lonely Planet cautions seniors on being aware of “fake police.” I had not heard of that one either, but there are so many means of scamming unsuspecting seniors who just want to have a good time abroad. Chris Koster, the Missouri Attorney General has heard just about every kind of scam around and advises seniors to be aware of the old “free vacation scam” along with a few others. Good advice.

Just a couple more

Budget Travel notes that seniors need to be cautious when they hear the words “complimentary, split pricing and below market value.” Globe Spots has a long, long listing of scams that you will want to be aware of and take special note of prior to landing abroad.  An increasingly common scam involves hotel guests who receive a phone call in the middle of the night from someone claiming to work at the front desk. There’s been a problem with your credit card, they say. Could you read the number back one more time? The scammers are banking you’ll do something while half-asleep that you never should-give out credit card info by phone. Don’t do it.

You would think that these tips would just about cover it all, but there always seems to be one more wrinkle and Kiplinger Magazine gets involved with six scams that they want seniors to avoid. You may have a few of your own that you can add or have personally experienced that are not listed. Tell your seniors friends who are about to leave on vacation your suggestions. They will thank you later.   jeb

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