AARP Warns Travelers of Vacation Scams Ahead of Travel Season

Elderly couple at seaside in summerPhoto by Mathias Reding on

HARRISBURG, PA — As travel season kicks off, AARP Pennsylvania is urging travelers to be vigilant against scams that could turn dream vacations into costly nightmares. With the excitement of exploring new destinations, travelers may fall prey to fraudulent vacation rentals and car hire deals.

“Nothing ruins a vacation faster than realizing your booking was a sham,” stated Mary Bach, Volunteer and Chair of the Consumer Issues Task Force at AARP Pennsylvania. “We see numerous ads for luxurious properties and premium cars at unrealistically low rates. It’s crucial to do your due diligence before making any payments.”

Vacation rental scams often feature properties with enticingly low rates and exceptional amenities. Scammers hijack legitimate listings or create fake ones using stolen images. They push for quick deals and upfront payments, leaving travelers disappointed upon arrival.

Car rental scams also spike during peak travel times. Fraudsters lure travelers with low rates and insist on advance payments through untraceable methods like gift cards or prepaid debit cards, leaving travelers stranded without a vehicle.

David Kalinoski, Associate State Director of Outreach for AARP Pennsylvania, emphasized the importance of verification. “Before booking, confirm the property exists through tools like Google Street View and insist on a detailed rental agreement. For car rentals, ensure you’re using the genuine company’s website or real customer service number.”

AARP Pennsylvania offers these tips to safeguard against scams:

  • Research thoroughly: Investigate the property, owner, and travel deals.
  • Avoid untraceable payments: Never pay by wire transfer, prepaid debit card, or gift card.
  • Use credit cards: Pay by credit card for added security and potential recourse.
  • Get it in writing: Verify all terms in writing, including cancellation and refund policies.

“We urge all travelers to be cautious and report any suspicious offers,” added Kalinoski. “By staying informed and cautious, you can ensure your vacation is memorable for all the right reasons.”

Travelers should report scams to local law enforcement. For assistance from AARP, call 1-877-908-3360 or visit the AARP Pennsylvania Fraud Resource Page.

With these precautions, travelers can enjoy their vacations without the risk of falling victim to scams.

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