Unlike most products, travel services usually have to be paid for before they are delivered. This creates opportunities for disreputable individuals and companies. Some travel packages turn out to be very different from what was presented or what the consumer expected. Some don’t materialize at all! 

If you receive an offer by phone or mail for a free or extremely low-priced vacation trip to a popular destination, there are a few things you should look for: 

Does the price seem too good to be true? If so, it   probably is.


Are you asked to give your credit card number over the phone?


Are you pressured to make an immediate decision?  


Is the carrier simply identified as “a major airline,” or does the representative offer a collection of airlines without being able to say which one you will be on?  


Is the representative unable or unwilling to give you a street address for the company?


Are you told you can’t leave for at least two months? (The deadline for disputing a credit card charge is 60 days, and most scam artists know this.) Hint Hint!!! If you encounter any of these symptoms, proceed cautiously. Ask for written information to be sent to you; any legitimate travel company will be happy to oblige. If they say no to both requests, this probably isn’t the trip for you.


You have won a free vacation. Yes, you have. But (here comes the magic word) you have to buy something else in order to get it. Some packages have promoted free air fare, as long as you buy expensive hotel arrangements. Others include a free hotel stay, but no air fare.  

If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.