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Beach Blanket Bummer: The Spring Break Scams to Watch Out For

It’s fairly common this time of year for scams related to spring break trips to crop up, and “spring breakers” are targets for many kinds of fraud, according to a report from National Consumers League.

Scams can affect travelers both while they plan their trips and once they arrive at their destination. You might be on vacation from school, but taking a hiatus from keeping your identity safe could turn your spring break into a bust.

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For instance, many bogus sites may promise great vacations for prices that seem too good to be true, and that’s because they are, the report said. These sites are designed explicitly to bilk people out of hundreds of dollars or more, and leave them with nothing to show for it. As a result, it’s best to book travel plans through reputable, well-known sites only.

Free Credit Check & MonitoringUpon arriving at a spring break destination, college students should try to avoid any solicitations that tell them they won something that they didn’t sign up for, or didn’t know about beforehand, the report said. These claims could be a red flag for scams, and if travelers fall for them, they can be difficult to resolve.

“Scammers are keenly aware of this and are advertising custom-tailored schemes to defraud this vulnerable group,” the National Consumers League site said. Also, because police are focused on maintaining order amid the hectic spring break activities, they often don’t have the resources to track down all fraudsters.  Identity thieves know that this means they have less of a chance of getting caught, and take advantage of the opportunity.

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The site offers these other tips, too:

  • Be careful when looking at deals that offer a lot (five-star hotels, premium airfare, etc.) for a low price or require immediate payment for a low rate. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Get all of the details of your trip in writing, including the total cost, restrictions, and the exact names of the hotels or airlines that the deals offers.
  • Pay for the vacation with a credit card. This ensures you are protected if something goes wrong, and it helps authorities to more easily track the fraudulent vendor. Avoid companies that require payments by only cash, check, or wire transfer.
  • Do your research. Check online to see if the company have an established — and good — reputation, and see if other consumers have complained of hidden fees or sudden price increases.

In general, young adults should keep in mind that they should never share sensitive personal or financial data — such as name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, or credit card or bank account information — with anyone, particularly if the requests for such information comes to them from someone they don’t recognize, or was unsolicited.

Image: Valentina Powers, via Flickr

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