Travel scams become more common during summer months, BBB warns

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COLUMBIA - Memorial Day kicks off the unofficial start of summer travel and the Better Business Bureau is warning consumers of travel fraud.

According to Sean Spence, Regional Director of the mid-Missouri BBB, travel scams decreased last year compared to previous years. However, hotel and travel scams are still a billion dollar business.

"Very often now that we have the internet, people can think they are renting something and it turns out they are renting something very different, or not renting anything at all," Spence said.

He said when looking to rent a place, make sure you do research on the lister.

"[One] thing that can happen is that the person you are renting from may not own the property at all, and you might show up ready to rent a condo or a home and find out in fact, the person that is renting it to you doesn't have any right to do that," Spence said.

The BBB also recommends to pay with a credit card when booking travel to ensure an extra level of security.

"It's generally going to be easier to get your money back if they have been scammed in some way," Spence said.

Spence also said to be aware of unusual ads in your inbox.

"Typically what happens is you'll get an e-mail advertising a really great travel deal. You'll click on a link, you'll go to the website advertising the deal, you'll think it's great and it turns out to be a scam," Spence said.

Here are some other tips the BBB suggests:

  • Try to stick with websites you have heard of before, like Expedia.
  • Stay away from third party websites like Craigslist, that is where people are most commonly scammed.
  • Look for reviews on a property you are renting from. If there are no reviews, that is a red flag.
  • Do research on the lister and see if there were past complaints.
  • Beware of companies asking for upfront payments. The number one warning sign is a request to be paid either in cash or by wire.


If you feel you are targeted by a scam, contact your local BBB or Attorney General.