Traveling again? Local agent on how to prevent your stimulus money from getting snatched

Scam Alerts

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — While vaccines are empowering folks to travel again, scammers are empowered to steal.

Most people haven’t done much traveling within the last year, which means their protective instincts may be a little rusty. Local travel agent Monica Davis and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) have tips to avoid getting scammed.

“You need to make sure these people are legitimate before you start giving them your personal information,” Davis said.

Davis runs Travel the Monica Way, her own travel agency in Richmond. She recently came across the common “free vacation scam”, where people are awarded a vacation that’s seemingly free.

She said if an offer looks too good to be true, it probably is.

“Really nothing in the world is free,” Davis said. “So always read the find print.”

The Better Business Bureau is also warning of “Vacation Rental Scams,” where people trick you into renting a home they don’t even have access to.

“Always, always, reach out to the owner of the AirBnb before you book any kind of travel,” Davis said.

You can also look the address up on google street view to confirm the home matches the listing. “Researching is definitely key,” for every vacation you book, according to the travel agent.

She said before booking, check the reviews to make sure other customers or guests had good experiences with the company. Social media can also be beneficial when doing research. Check the company’s social media sites and make sure the web address is legitimate.

The BBB warns Virginians to be cautious of third parties, like when you’re booking something and a separate unknown website pops up for payment.

“I wouldn’t trust anyone that’s not well known. If they’re not well known, scratch them off your list. it’s a no for me,” Davis said.

According to the BBB, in “hotel scams,” con artists call folks pretending to be a front desk worker. They often telling the person on the other line to verify credit card information and so on.

The bottom line is to always be skeptical of who you’re giving your personal information to.

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