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As the country prepares to head out during some of the busiest travel days of the year, Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific is offering smart tips for safe travel. While planning ahead and thoroughly vetting airlines, airports and travel agencies is essential, there are also scams travelers should be aware of before they make their big trek.

In 2017, there were 2,546 travel scams reported to BBB Scam Tracker in North America, with $973,000 lost to victims. Many of the travel scams reported to BBB revolve around travel agencies or vacation deals that never pan out. However, there are also scams that can target travelers where they least expect it.

To help ensure a worry-free vacation, avoid broad internet searches. Try to avoid entering phrases like “best deals” into whichever search engine you use. Broad search terms like that can sometimes lead you to websites that look official but are designed solely to rip people off.

The BBB encourages you to do your homework. Ask family and friends to recommend a travel agent or travel website and visit bbb.org for free business profiles. If you are using online services to find accommodations, be sure to research the business and read customer reviews about any rentals you are considering.

When you do find accommodations or flights, you’ll want to book pay with a credit card. Paying with a credit card gives you additional protection if something should go wrong with the travel reservation.

No matter when or where you are traveling, there are things you should always do to protect yourself, your home and your belongings:

Wait to post on social media.

  • We all like to share our vacation adventures with friends and family, but wait until you get back from your trip. Giving too much detail about when you will be away, and when your home will be empty, could attract thieves.

Check your home insurance.

  • If your home is unattended while you are away, make sure you know your responsibilities under your home insurance policy. Some policies do not cover damage if nobody checks on your home for a certain amount of time.

Watch out for fake calls.

  • In another scam targeting hotel guests, their room phone may ring, and the caller claims that they are from the hotel’s front desk. Due to a computer glitch, the caller claims they need the guest to provide their credit card number to ensure their stay is not interrupted. This is a ruse to obtain the victim’s credit card number.

For more tips to avoid scams, visit bbb.org/scamtips.

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