01 Jun Vacation Scams
Dr. Sherry McCoy PhD
is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles. Follow SSSAP on Facebook . For more info re: SSSAP, contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com. Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD – Stop Senior Scams Acting Program
Well, it’s June of 2019 and summertime is finally here! If you are like most people, you are probably thinking about taking a vacation. I know I am! Even if you are retired, summer is the season to get away from it all. It’s the time to park yourself on a beautiful beach somewhere, drink some ice-cold lemonade, and read your favorite novel. Or, perhaps you prefer to travel to the mountains, go for a little hike, and take in some of that fresh, clean air. Whatever your vacation plans are — here are some tips to help you steer clear of rip-off artists who are intent upon separating you from your money. Beware of “Vacation Scams!”
Free Vacation Prize — If you get an unsolicited call, text, email, fax or letter in the mail that says you have “won a free vacation,” and all you have to do to collect your prize is send a small fee or purchase a product or service, such as join a travel club or buy an extra ticket for a companion — This is a scam! A legitimate business is not going to ask you to pay a fee or purchase anything to collect a prize. Additionally, if the prize company asks for your credit card information so they can “verify” your identity, do not give them this information. Scammers collect personal and credit card info for one purpose only, i.e., identity theft.¹
Travel Insurance – If you are considering the purchase of travel cancellation insurance for your vacation, contact the U.S. Travel Insurance Association at http://www.ustia.org/ to make sure the company you are dealing with is legit, i.e., a licensed travel insurance company.¹ You don’t want to pay for travel insurance only to find out that the policy you purchased is bogus.
Vacation Rental Scams — Con artists list fraudulent vacation rentals in the classified ad sections of local or national newspapers or online (e.g., Craigslist) as a way of attracting victims. They promise you the world and entice you with beautiful pictures and testimonials that sound too good to be true. And they offer you the deal of the century – discounted rates that are tempting because of the unbelievably low price! The only catch is – the scammer may have no real affiliation to the vacation property that is advertised, or the vacation rental may be completely made-up. The scammers will often require that you wire them money in advance to secure the vacation rental. And once they have your money, they skip town, so to speak, and you are left empty handed. You are out the money you paid, and there is no vacation rental to be found.
Protect Yourself from Scams – In general, it’s important to do your homework when planning a vacation. Talk to friends and family about their travel experiences and get recommendations from them about reputable travel companies. Get all information in writing before you agree to purchase anything. Never wire money – it’s the same as sending cash, and you’ll likely never get it back. It’s not a good idea to post personal information about your travel plans on social media such as Facebook. It lets criminals know when you are away from your home. And lastly, stay informed. For additional info about travel scams, contact ftc.gov/travel.
How to Report Scams — If you believe you have been the victim or the target of any scam, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357 or online at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1. And then — Pass It On! If you have questions about Medicare fraud / abuse, or believe you have been the victim of Medicare fraud please contact the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) at 1-855-613-7080. For more info regarding California SMP, go to www.cahealthadvocates.org.
Remember: You may be a target, but you don’t have to be a victim!
¹ FTC http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0027-travel-scams/
Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD, is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams ℠Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles. Save the Date – SSSAP performs (free): April 9, 9:45-11:30 am, Our Lady of Lourdes, Stroup Hall, 18400 Kinzie Street, Northridge, CA 91325. For more information, please contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com. Follow SSSAP on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SSSAP2016/?fref=ts. Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or email@example.com.