LITTLE ROCK – The school year is winding down, and many Arkansans are making summer vacation plans. Whether it is a trip to the beach, somewhere abroad, or one of Arkansas’s many lakes or state parks, Arkansans should keep a watchful eye to avoid falling victim to a vacation scam. Scam artists are using the internet, including online advertising and social media, to pitch free or deeply discounted travel deals.
Many scammers will attempt to convince you that your friends and family members are taking advantage of this offer and you should too. Meanwhile, other scammers include being offered vacation rentals that look too good to be true. Travelers make the reservation and show up at the home or condo, only to find it was never up for rent and a scam artist stole photos and listing information to trick you out of hard earned cash. While it is possible to find a good travel deal or even win a vacation, you must stay mindful of the fact that there are bad actors seeking to ruin your fun by taking your money.
“Scam artists will stop at nothing to take advantage of hard-working Arkansans,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Fraudsters are constantly coming up with new ways to steal your money, but one thing never changes; if it sounds too good to be true, it likely is.”
Attorney General Rutledge released the following list of common scams vacationers could encounter:
- Third-party Booking Scam: If you book your airfare, hotel, rental car, or other travel through a third party website, use caution. After booking, scammers call consumers directly to verify personal financial information—something a legitimate company would never do.
- Ticket Sale Scam: Summertime is full of festivals and concerts that often sell out. Scammers take advantage of this and list tickets for sale at a discounted price. Consumers don’t find out until trying to attend the event that the tickets are fake.
- Gasoline Scam: Scammers approach with a convincing story that they ran out of gas and money. They claim to only need $40 to fill up the tank and may even offer to mail a check to repay you. The likelihood that the repayment will be received is slim. Either refuse to give the scammers money or pay for their fuel at the nearest service station to ensure the money is spent as intended.
- Rideshare Service Scam: Uber or Lyft drivers approach, and mention that a passenger just canceled a trip, leaving them available for a trip, but they must be paid in cash. Often, these drivers do not even work for a legitimate rideshare company. Similarly, any drivers who claim an “outage” is preventing them from accepting payment via the Uber or Lyft system is a red flag. Cashless travel is one of the main perks of using a rideshare company.
- Fake Front Desk Phone Call Scam: Scam artists call hotel rooms directly, often in the middle of the night.. They say there has been a computer glitch and they need to verify your credit card information. Hang up immediately and contact the front desk to verify the call.
Some helpful travel tips include:
- Put a travel alert on your debit or credit card to prevent issues or scams while out of town.
- Use a credit card instead of a debit card because there are more protections available and it may be easier to dispute versus losing access to the cash in your bank account.
- Use social media with care—don’t post while you’re out of town. You might be inviting a criminal into your empty house.
- Withdraw cash from an ATM at a financial institution versus a standalone ATM to prevent your card information from being stolen.
For more information on safe summer travel and other consumer-related issues or to file a consumer complaint, visit ArkansasAG.gov or contact the Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or firstname.lastname@example.org.