Whenever you received a phone call offering various services, you will surely decline it because you have a busy schedule but how about if you really won a contest and they are calling you to pick the prize. It’s overwhelming right?
Did you feel the urge to sign up at restaurants or exhibits or trade shows so you could have a chance to win a trip? If yes, phone calls, fax, letters and email may come to you and tell that you have won something expensive like “YOU’VE WON A TRIP TO ___!”, “CLAIM YOUR AIRLINE TICKETS at __!”, “You have been selected to a luxury ___ vacation!”, “GET A TRAVEL CARD”, etc.
Not all services offered from the Internet or telephone such as travel deals and packages are scam. You just have to detect the real opportunity from fraud. Still, many scammers have taken millions of money from victims every month.
1. Upgrades and additional fees
If you got a call or have respond to the letters, text message or ads given or addressed to you, you will surely hear a good sales pitch. You will be persuaded to get your would-be great and once in a lifetime offer of your dream luxurious trip that will later become your worst nightmare. Worst, they can pretend that they are from a well-known bank, Credit Card Company or tour agency.
Be careful that there will be a hidden exchange with the so called “discounts to many hotels and restaurants” or “prize”.
The caller will tell you to give your credit card details so they (company) will now bill it for your purchase or they will send a staff to your house and will bring the credit card terminal so you can see the actual envelopes with the so called “tickets, vouchers, coupons” and swipe your credit card right away.
After you have made your payment, you will receive details on how to make reservations, use your vouchers or coupons, making trips, etc. The company will offer you upgrade by paying additional fees such as upgrading hotel room accommodations. Other offers might require you to pay more for taxes and service fees.
You will now notice that additional charges offered keep coming to you. Unfortunately, this means your supposedly card benefits and reservations are not truly confirmed and you may have to give another money to meet the unattainable terms and conditions.
Inside the operations of a telemarketing scam, salespeople are working in their “boiler rooms” selling non-existing travel packages to consumers over the phone, they can do an “elevator pitch” to convince customers that they have to grab this travel deal so they will not regret it.
2. This Offer is for today only
The telemarketer will give you the affordable travel offers such as joining club memberships or having a vacation in a luxurious place. These will get the customer’s interest. He or She will use time pressure tactics such as “We are offering this only for today….and tomorrow it will be back to a price of _(insert higher price)__”.
He or she will make a promise that the deal is great but in reality they cannot deliver it or that is non-existent after all. Some travel companies will even send you a written contract but it is not the same offer you have accepted over the phone because it contains never before heard costs and conditions. If you will still fall for this sales pitch, you will regret it later or some day when your money is gone and you gained nothing from this “deal”.
3. Time pressure to get the offer
Don’t buy yet. Investigate the travel offer and the company. A legitimate one do not pressure and do not expect you to buy immediately especially over the phone. They will give you enough time to think and get their offer. For good deals, they can offer products and services of real value or a bit cheaper than its competitors can offer.
4. Way of providing details
Don’t hesitate to ask questions regarding the total price you really have to pay. Ask if there are other charges. Get the names of establishments they mentioned that are connected to them. Then, contact these partner establishments to verify about the company and its travel offer.
This is an optional tip but illegal companies can change names so they can get away with their fraudulent activities: Ask a government business department or tourism board in your place to know the company’s location and its operations. Know if it has already received many complaints.
Don’t forget to ask the telemarketer about refund and cancellation policies. Don’t bother to listen further and end the call if the telemarketer cannot offer you detailed answers.
There are some cases that the telemarketer will call you and say that they are your ___ Credit Card Company and they have chosen you because you are a client with good credit standing. Aside from mentioning your name, if they will ask your age, address and your credit card number, just tell them to look for their (___ Credit Card Company) own records since they are the one who called you at the first place and they should know it already before calling you. Again, if they cannot provide you a logical answer, end the call.
5. Your action
Whether you become a victim or not, if the fraudulent travel company is using a well-known travel company’s brand, report it to the real one so it is up to them if they will be more careful in cleaning their company’s name.
If you become a victim, call the credit card company immediately to stop the transaction as soon as possible. Report this transaction also to the appropriate government agency in your area.
6. Credit card details before the offer
If you think this is legitimate and you decided to buy, get all the information first before buying. When you have received a contract, document or any written information, make sure it stated all the information you have told and agreed over the phone including the terms and overall charges.
Do not buy hotel accommodation or air fare separately from the rest of the package. Buying these may lead to difficulty to get a refund and talk to the right personnel.
Do not give your credit card details if you are just beginning in a verification and telling the travel offer stage. Make sure to give it to the point you will now be having a purchase. Do not send cash.
7. Is it better to use credit card or cash?
Better to use credit card instead of cash in this kind of transaction. If you pay by cash and discovered that it is a fraud, you cannot take your money back. If you pay by credit card, you can dispute the fraudulent charges.
If you have doubt in the offer, don’t hesitate to say NO and turn down the offer because these offers are not your basic needs and you can manage to live a good life without this. It’s less risky if you will just put your phone down.