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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > March 2014 > Beware of Vacation Scams this Spring Break

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Beware of Vacation Scams this Spring Break

The harsh winter has prompted many Ohioans to dream of warmer weather and tropical beaches. While the marketing of spring break travel packages may entice people to sign up for the first bargain they see advertised, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office cautions consumers to research travel packages thoroughly and ask questions. Don’t let the promise of a few days of fun turn into an expensive nightmare!

Before you sign a contract or make a payment for a spring break vacation, consider these tips:
  • Research the travel company’s reputation by checking complaints filed with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau. Also, conduct a simple online search using the name of the company and words such as “reviews” or “scam.” Consider asking friends and family members for travel company recommendations, too.
  • Be cautious of extremely low-priced vacations. Find out if the cost includes all of the services you may need (airfare, hotel, rental car, etc.) and if there are any extra charges, such as a per-day facility fee, taxes, and resort surcharges.
  • Read the fine print. Details about extra charges or the company’s refund/cancellation policy (if any) may be buried in small type. Before booking or providing payment, review all terms and conditions listed in the contract.
  • Get everything in writing. If you receive verbal promises of certain discounts or benefits, be sure it is all contained in the written contract. Otherwise, those promises are not guaranteed.
  • Find consumer reviews and photos of the specific hotel. Some hotels may use only the most favorable descriptions and photos of their properties, or worse yet, they may edit photos so a one-star property looks like a five-star resort. Search for descriptions, reviews, and photos from actual guests who have stayed in the hotel.
  • Consider purchasing travel insurance. Learn exactly what is (and is not) covered. For example, under what conditions will the policy guarantee a refund in case the trip is canceled or a natural disaster occurs?
  • When booking a vacation, consider using a credit card rather than a debit card. Federal law provides consumers with certain protections when using credit cards. If problems arise, it may be easier to dispute unauthorized transactions.
Consumers who suspect a scam or unfair business practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or