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Planning to travel this holiday season? No matter where you’re going (over the river and through the woods), how you’re getting there (planes, trains, and automobiles), or where you’re staying (home for the holidays), here are the scams to avoid along the way.

Just in time for a holiday vacation, you might think you’ve won a vacation. Except the organizer says to pay a fee to get your prize. And just like that, you spotted the scam, because real prizes are free. Anyone asking you to pay for a prize is a scammer.

Like the hottest toys on the market, rental cars are in high demand. If you suddenly find an available car for cheap, know that scammers are looking to cash in on the fear of missing out. Check it out before you bite. And if someone asks you to pre-pay for a rental with a gift card or prepaid debit card, it’s a scam.

Looking for a place to ring in the new year? Like with rental cars, scammers hijack real rental listings — changing the contact information and reposting listings on different sites. Then they ask you to pay for fees, deposits, or rent using a wire transfer service like Western Union or MoneyGram. Some scammers also list places that don’t actually exist.

Here’s how to avoid scams while planning your trip:

  • Do some research. If you’re looking to rent, search the rental company’s name, plus words like “scam,” “review,” or “complaint.”
  • Spot rental listing scams. Look for the name of the rental company and search their website — using a link you know is real — to see if the property is listed there, too. If it isn’t, the listing is likely a scam.
  • Pay by credit card, which gives you the best protections. Scammers want you to pay in ways that make it hard to get your money back — like wire transfers through Western Union or MoneyGram, cash, cryptocurrency, or payment apps.

Traveling is stressful enough, so tell the FTC about scams you see:

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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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Kaium Sarkar
December 08, 2023

They are first wants to payment crypto. Surprised they are still using International Government Organization email.

Chizuru Nakagawa
December 08, 2023

Everyone needs money so there is scam.. they need for themselves and family to survived.. right? welcome to media.. and thanks for reminding me.. have lovely day..

Dennis Green
December 08, 2023

I have reported Lloydshare Ltd Inc, a fraudulent timeshare annuity company numerous times but because I have a Canadian postal code instead of an American zip code, I cannot see what is going on concerning the fraud.
This' guaranteed ' annuity payment doesn't get paid very often. It is ongoing. The feature 25 year annuity began in 2002 so in 2027, there will be a deluge of buyers not getting their annuities.
If Lloydshare Ltd Inc can be charged now and prohibited from raking in millions without having anything to pay out. probably thousands of fraud victims can be saved.
The Lloydshare head office in Panama City, in the World Trade Center, does not exist. I contacted the WTC office and they have no record of Lloydshare being a tenant.
It is owned by Martyn Ravenhill of Las Vegas and Puerto Valharta.

anne dunlap
December 08, 2023

also scammers like to have you pay with gift cards

Lynn Jordan-Shields
December 11, 2023

I recently had a shipped purchase at a legitimate store. Somehow, my new credit card info was used at that physical store to make purchases in excess of $1000. Interestingly, I was informed by the store of the two charges and that the items were awaiting pickup. Then one was actually picked up, so I called the physical store and told the operator that the person was in the store and to not allow them to pick up the second item. The second item was not picked up. I called my credit card and they canceled the charges and sent us new cards. Hope this helps someone else.

Steven schulz
December 08, 2023

Is there any way I can getting my money back from the friend that wrote me an eye on you. Besides, checking them to come off small claim court.

December 11, 2023

Thank you for all your helpful e-mails throughout the year.

December 11, 2023

Postal money orders are as bad as gift cards since you have to pay to get a copy showing who signed it & the signature may not be legible or correct, nor is there an address. Neither is it possible to recoup the money as one does with credit cards.

Khaled alfuwiris
December 12, 2023

I am from Kuwait. I reserved two rooms for two nights at the Home2 Suites by Hilton Orlando/International Drive South. Upon receiving the rooms, it was noted that they did not clean the bathroom. I was disgusted and went down to reception and asked if I could leave and get a refund for two rooms. The agreement was made and I left, from 12/18/2022, and the amount was not refunded. I sent them several messages saying that they sent the amount by check and I did not receive anything. How do I recover my rights?