Don’t Waste Your Money: 5 Scams That Can Ruin Your Next Vacation

Empty wallet

The school year is almost over, which means summer vacations are right around the corner. This is also the time of year when vacation scams are abundant. Scammers take advantage of the fact that most vacation goers are hunting for the best vacation deal they can find.

If you’re looking for the best deal around, here are 5 scams to look out for:

  1. Postcards offering free airlines or free cruises. You’ll almost always end up paying hundreds of dollars in hidden fees with these offers. After all, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. 1 
  2. Fake delivery menus in hotel rooms. If you see a flier on a counter or stuffed under your hotel room door, it might not be from a legitimate business. If you choose to call the number of the flier and place an order, you run the risk of your credit card information being stolen.

    Best practice: Ask your hotel’s front desk staff for suggestions, or go online to review sites like Yelp to find restaurants nearby. 2

  3. Wi-fi Skimming. Scammers know that everyone likes free Wi-Fi. Scammers will create a free Wi-Fi network in a hotel, park, or a popular public area and wait for unsuspecting people to connect to the network. Any data used while connected to that network will be sent directly to the scammer’s computer, including usernames, passwords, and payment information. 2

    Best practice: If you’re in a public area, be wary of free Wi-Fi networks. Some phone carriers will allow you to use your phone as a hotspot. If you travel a lot, this option might be worth considering. If you’re staying in a hotel, most hotels have password protected Wi-Fi networks and will supply you with the password. Ask the front desk staff if the Wi-Fi information is not provided to you at check-in. 2

  4. A late night call from the front desk. Scammers will call at night from an untraceable number, impersonating a hotel staff member claiming that there was a problem processing your card, and ask for the card number over the phone. If you receive a call like this, go to the front desk and discuss it in person, not over the phone. 2

    Best practice: Always book a hotel room with a credit card, not a debit card, because many credit cards have fraud protection. 2

  5. You paid for a beachfront view, but you can’t see the beach from your room. Vacation goers often have to pay extra for a beachfront view, but sometimes don’t get what they pay for.

    Best practice: Before booking the room, use other online sources to verify that the hotel faces the beach, like Google Street View, which allows you to see 360-degrees around the hotel, or TripAdvisor, where guests post photos of the view from their rooms. 2


Do your research. If you’re staying at a hotel, always double-check with the front-desk staff if you have any questions.

1 Don’t waste your money: 7 scams to ruin your vacation experience
2 5 Hotel scams that could ruin your next vacation

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