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Travel stress-free by avoiding scams this summer

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What’s better than the beginning of summer? Longer days, warm weather and for many, summer vacations. But nothing will cause a trip to go off the rails faster than falling victim to a travel scam. When you’re planning your travel this year, plan ahead with these tips to help ensure a headache-free trip.

You might be looking at companies that offer specific adventures or tours or working with travel agencies to help plan your trip. Check these companies out before you agree to give them your money. Just call the Better Business Bureau and my office’s Consumer Protection Division. You can also search online to see if others have had negative experiences with the company by entering the company name and the word “complaint” or “scam.”

Some travel agencies tell you that they’ve partnered with a specific hotel company or airline and will give you a coupon to help cover the cost of making a reservation with that company. Reach out to any of these partner companies first to confirm that they do partner with the agency and will honor your coupon or voucher.

When you’re signing contracts related to travel, read through them carefully. Make sure they match the conversations you’ve already had, and make sure everything you’ve already talked about with the business representative has been included.

If you are renting a house at the beach or mountains, you have some protections under North Carolina law. The landlord must give you a written rental agreement, and if your vacation gets cut short by a natural disaster and your landlord did not offer you renters insurance, the landlord is required to refund any missed days due to a mandatory evacuation.

For things like hotel reservations and air or train travel, get details about your trip in writing. Read carefully to understand any associated fees or add-ons, and get a confirmed reservation before you agree to pay for anything. Pay with a credit card whenever you can, so that you can track the transaction and dispute it if necessary. Transactions with cash or a debit card are harder to track or cancel.

As always, it’s important to trust your instincts. If a travel offer is free or very inexpensive, or if someone’s reached out to tell you that you’ve won a trip, take a moment to consider the offer. Like any scam, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

While planning your trip, you might run into other scams along the way that you should watch out for. Read more on our website about scams related to timeshares and travel clubs.

And if you’re not traveling this summer, you might still be planning a move. Learn how to protect your money and your possessions from moving scams at http://ncdoj.gov/moving.

Trips and vacations should be wonderful experiences that come with many great memories. Keeping an eye out for potential scams will help prevent your trip from going downhill fast. If you have a complaint related to your travel, please report it to the N.C. Department of Justice by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or by filing a complaint online at www.ncdoj.gov/complaint.aspx.

Josh Stein is the attorney general of North Carolina and head of the N.C. Department of Justice.

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