The summer months see millions of Americans packing their bags and taking to the highways or airports to start some much-needed vacations.
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), however, the summer months are also ripe with scammers and con artists looking to make a quick profit off of unsuspecting consumers just hoping to make the most of their vacation time.
As reported by Tampa’s 10 News WTSP, more than 130 people nationwide have already been victimized by vacation or travel scams this season, according to the BBB’s “scam tracker;” this includes 14 consumers in our home state of Florida.
The biggest culprits, according to the Florida Attorney General? Fake rentals and vacation prize packages.
As WTSP goes on to explain:
Diane Ferry from Pennsylvania said she was almost scammed by a fake rental. She tried to rent a house on Craigslist in Sarasota for two weeks.
“I’ve never been scammed before so I was horrified,” Ferry said.
After she paid she got suspicious and pulled up the address on Zillow. She found a different house worth $2.3 million, obviously worth more than the $2,000 rental fee she paid. Then her granddaughter who lives nearby found out it was also under construction.
Ferry hates thinking about what would have happened.
“We wouldn’t have had a place to stay and we would have realized then, and by that time he would have been gone with the money I’m sure,” Ferry said.
So what can consumers do to protect themselves? The BBB’s Bryan Oglesby advises always doing research before pursuing an “enticing offer” on a rental or prize package. The BBB also advises consumers to never “wire money or send gift cards” as payment.
To research “illegal scheme[s] or fraud” in your region, the BBB’s “Scam Tracker” is free and easy to use, and you can visit it here. If you suspect a business is attempting fraud, reach out to the BBB, or report it to the Florida Attorney General by calling their fraud hotline at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM.
We encourage you to read or watch the full story over at WTSP’s site. For more on how scammers target timeshare consumers in particular, we encourage you to read about the five stages of a timeshare resale scam.
Led by Attorney Michael D. Finn with 50 years of experience, the Finn Law Group is a consumer protection firm specializing in timeshare law. Our lawyers understand vacation ownership as well as the many pitfalls of the secondary market of timeshare resales. If you feel you have been victimized by a timeshare company, contact our offices for a free consultation. Know your rights as a consumer and don’t hesitate to drop us a line with any questions or concerns.