Consumer Advocate

Sign up for newsletters and other news
Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > June 2021 > Booking Travel? Do Your Research and Beware of Scams

Consumer Advocate RSS feeds

Booking Travel? Do Your Research and Beware of Scams

People are ready to get out and about, but along with the fun of travel comes the responsibility of keeping yourself and others safe, both from COVID-19 and travel-related scams.
While many consumers have received a vaccination, experts say, Ohioans planning a vacation in 2021 should be prepared for changes. The American Automobile Association (AAA) advises: “The entire travel experience has been transformed by COVID-19. If you’re considering travel sometime this year, it’s more important than ever to do your due diligence ahead of any trip to ensure it is safe and enjoyable.”
For a fun and safe vacation with no unwelcome surprises:
  • Understand that masks may be required when traveling, especially at airports and other public transportation stations.
  • Research your destination. Pay special attention to any closures or altered hours of operation due to COVID-19 and any restrictions put in place by the state or locality. For example, some policies require COVID testing before arrival. If you will be traveling internationally, check travel alerts from the U.S. State Department and be aware that even U.S. citizens must test negative for COVID-19 to re-enter our country. 
  • Renting a car? Some car rental and car sharing services may still be limited due to the pandemic. Book in advance or consider alternative transportation.
  • Planning a hotel stay? Find out how guests are being protected from the spread of COVID-19. Also, check with your hotel to understand its policies and make sure services you expect – such as continental breakfast and regular room cleaning – are still offered. If possible, look at reviews shared by recent travelers.
  • Flying? Check with your airline regarding the cancellation policy. Find out if food and beverage services will be limited or unavailable and prepare accordingly. Currently, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is allowing one “oversized” liquid hand sanitizer (up to 12 ounces) per passenger in carry-on bags. Also, if you have credits from canceled flights, find out the terms and conditions for using the credits as well as their expiration date.
  • Cruising? Many cruise lines continue to suspend sailing, but cruising consumers should be sure to find out the cruise line’s cancellation policy and what to expect on a voyage. These actions will ensure that you are prepared and that your expectations meet the reality of travel during the ongoing pandemic.
Not only should consumers do their research before booking travel, but it is essential that they stay aware of travel-related scams. For example, vacation rental scams occur when scammers advertise properties that are not actually available to rent. They usually offer below-market rates and ask renters to send a deposit using a wire-transfer or money-order service. After renters send the money, they get nothing in return.

To avoid travel scams:
  • Research companies before doing business with them. Look for complaints filed with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and Better Business Bureau. Search online for reviews using the company’s name and words like “reviews” or “complaints.”
  • Double-check the phone number you are about to dial or the link you are about to click to make sure it will go to the legitimate company you are intending to do business with. It is especially important to verify websites before entering any credit card or other personal information. Travel scammers may create phony websites and/or fraudulent customer-support telephone numbers.
  • Get the details. Carefully review the terms and conditions of any agreement before signing, including any cancellation policies or added fees (i.e., a one-time or per-day resort fee charged by some hotels or rental units).
  • Make sure verbal promises are put in writing. Otherwise, they’re not guaranteed.
  • Consider paying with a credit card. You generally have stronger protections to dispute credit card charges if something goes wrong. 
  • Keep a copy of the contract or purchase agreement. If a problem arises, document the situation. For example, track the names of people you contact.
  • Verify your reservations. If you book a trip through a third party, call the resort or hotel where you will be staying to confirm your reservation.
Consumers who suspect a scam or who have problems they can’t resolve on their own should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or 800-282-0515.