Free Vacation Scams

Online Free Vacation Scam

You may have seen ads or received calls offering free vacations. But beware: these free vacation scams can end up costing you a lot of money.

As Summer heats up, so do the free vacation scams. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), you should pack your sunscreen, but leave the SPFs (scams, phonies, and frauds) behind. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has also seen a rise in complaints about travel schemes as well and warns that while travel can be a great way to spend your time and money, frequent complaints to BBB Scam Tracker suggest that some vacation offers are anything but.

Here’s how the scam works: You’ll be contacted by someone claiming to be from a travel company or affiliated with a resort. They’ll say that you’ve been chosen to receive a free vacation. All you have to do is pay a reservation fee in advance and agree to take a preview of a timeshare property or travel club tour. You might receive some form of a gift card or show tickets as an offset to the expense. But, as the FTC points out, you’ll quickly learn that you have to pay those fees and taxes first — so your “free” vacation isn’t really free.

You may be pressured to purchase a vacation club membership on the spot once you’ve agreed to go on the tour. If you don’t attend or stay for the whole presentation, as stated in the fine print, you’ll be required to pay full price for your resort stay if you leave early. These “Today Only” memberships might seem cheap at first but ultimately come with high fees to purchase, finance, and maintain. And even if you do manage to cancel the not-so-free vacation, you may not get your money back whether you take the tour or not.

What Can You Do To Avoid Free Vacation Scams?

-Hang up the phone if you receive a robocall offering a free vacation. Legitimate travel companies do not use robocalls to reach potential customers.

-Do your research before you agree to anything. Check out the company with the Better Business Bureau and search for customer reviews on travel websites.

-Never pay upfront fees for a free vacation offer. You shouldn’t have to pay anything to receive a free prize.

-Beware of pressure to buy. Vacation scams often include high-pressure sales tactics. If you feel like you’re being pressured into buying something, walk away.

When it comes to free vacation offers, scammers are trying to take advantage of your need to find economical travel options. As the old saying goes, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” That’s certainly the case with free vacation offers.

Fixing a consumer problem

Consumer Protection Resources

When in doubt, don’t give in to pressure to purchase a vacation on the spot. Scammers will often try to rush you into a purchase and provide additional tour incentives to get a potential buyer to commit. Consumer protection resources are available to help you make informed decisions about free vacation offers and other travel opportunities.

-The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) works to protect consumers from fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices.

-The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a nonprofit organization that provides resources to help consumers find businesses they can trust.

-Your state’s attorney general or local consumer protection office may have information about free vacation deals and other travel-related frauds in the travel sector.

Travel scams come in all shapes and sizes. Just because a company says that they represent a name-brand travel company, doesn’t mean they are legitimate. Do your homework and research any travel opportunity, free vacation offer, or timeshare presentation thoroughly before you commit to anything. A little legwork on the front end can help you avoid being scammed out of your hard-earned money on vacation.

If you’ve been a victim of a free vacation scam, you can file a complaint with the FTC. Consult a timeshare attorney if you have an issue with your timeshare and especially if you have a timeshare through a travel firm. You may need to speak with a timeshare attorney about what alternatives are open to you and whether you have a case to pursue, depending on the problem and especially if you acquired your timeshare through a travel club business.

This article is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal advice. Always consult with a travel safety specialist or your attorney before making travel plans. also has travel safety information for international travel.

Led by Attorneys Michael D. Finn and J. Andrew Meyer, the Finn Law Group is a consumer protection firm that specializes in timeshare-related matters. You may contact us for a free consultation if you need assistance with a travel-related matter or if you have questions about whether you’ve been the victim of a free vacation scam.

Need Help With Your Timeshare Cancellation?

Call: 855-346-6529

Schedule Free Consultation

Client Testimonials & Reviews

Not Sure How To Cancel Your Timeshare Contract?

We legally assist consumers in terminating timeshare contracts.

Request Consultation

Skip to content