By Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt
TOPEKA – (June 4, 2012) – With Memorial Day behind us, summer travel season is in full swing. Unfortunately, that means scammers will also be looking to take advantage of your travel plans to make a quick buck. Whether your travel plans include an exotic excursion or a weekend getaway to one of Kansas’ many local attractions, it’s important to be on alert for potential scams.
Scammers often target vacationers with faxes, emails or phone calls offering an incredible price for what sounds like a dream vacation. Or they offer a “free” vacation if you join a travel club or attend a promotional seminar for their timeshare. As with all offers that sound too good to be true, it’s important to read the fine print. In many cases, travelers arrive at their destination to discover the accommodations aren’t quite what they were promised. Vacation-goers may also be hit with hidden fees or extra charges like bed fees, meal fees, or even fees for sheets and towels.
Offers that seem too good to be true almost always are. Instead of being pressured by sales representatives or promised deals and discounts, it is better for you to initiate the transaction. Do careful research. Many online travel sites offer ways to compare prices and travel options. You can also work with a local, trusted travel agent.
Read the fine print
Before purchasing a vacation package, study the agreement carefully. Make sure you clearly understand all charges and fees. Also, be sure to check refund policies on airfare and hotel rooms, in case you have to cancel.
You should also consider using a credit card to pay for the purchase. In many cases, credit card companies offer fraud protections and you maintain the ability to dispute any charges you did not agree to. Many credit card companies also include travel and rental car insurance in your credit card agreement. Check with your credit card company to see if these options are currently available to you.
Beware of timeshares
Timeshares offer vacationers the opportunity to use a vacation property for a limited amount of time each year. While these may sound like great deals, our office often hears complaints from consumers who have been hit by hidden charges in their timeshare agreements. Be thorough in your research prior to purchasing a timeshare so you understand the true cost of ownership. In addition to the purchase price, timeshare owners are usually required to pay annual maintenance fees, which can go up each year. Improvements to the timeshare property can also result in additional costs. If you decide to sell your timeshare, the company may charge you recurring listing fees.
If you think you’ve been the victim of a scam, please contact our office at 1-800-432-2310 or online at www.ag.ks.gov.
Remember, having a memorable, relaxing experience with your family doesn’t have to take you far from home. There are many great places to visit right here in Kansas. Go to www.travelks.com to learn more about the great attractions within a short drive from home.
Have a safe and enjoyable summer!