Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to forgo the travel agent and book an entire holiday online. But doing so comes with its share of risks, such as these nasty online travel scams.
Visa application scam
While most countries only require a valid passport for access, some nations have specific rules for entrance and you may be required to apply for a visa to enter or to leave these countries.
Visa applications aren’t too difficult to fill in but they can take a while to process. Some people, short on time, become overwhelmed at the length of time it may take for a visa to be granted.
That’s where vampiric online companies enter the frame. For a marginally high fee, these companies offer to speed up the processing time for you, promising fast responses on visa applications.
These claims are false. There are no special ways to speed up an application process.
The only way you should apply for a visa is through your destination country’s consulate. Your travel agent can also assist you in finding the proper channels. Or you can find the forms online, which you can either complete via the consulate’s website or by printing them out, filling them in and mailing or hand-delivering them to the consulate.
Your visa will be processed and sent back to you. It will take up to two months, depending on the time of year, so ensure you give yourself plenty of time.
Booking hotels through a third party
If you’ve been looking for accommodation online, chances are you’ll have one of these advertisements pop up in your browser.
They’re ads for third-party websites that imitate official hotel websites. If you’re ever unsure of the source of these ads: don’t click on them.
Many people have been taken in by these tricky fake ads. These same people, thinking they’ve booked a room and paid for it, arrive at the hotel to find that they have no reservation. These scam sites may also book your room in a hotel, yet pocket the money you’ve paid for it. The traveller then arrives at the hotel thinking they’ve paid for their room, only to find that they must either fork out repeat funds for the room or pay a cancellation fee.
Passport application scam
This one works similarly to the visa application scam. There are companies out there who guarantee that, if you pay a high fee, they’ll get your passport to you faster than through official channels.
You will not receive your passport any faster than if you apply through the proper channels.
Social media scams
Social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, are also fertile breeding grounds for online travel scams.
For instance, a Facebook ad may promise cheap accommodation or flights and, with just a few clicks, you’ll not only have fallen for a scam yourself, but you’ll have shared it with your network of friends.
A lot of these ads are created so scammers can phish for personal details.
So, unless you trust the advertisement source, don’t click it.
Do you know of any online travel scams?