Table of contents
Table of contents
Winning a free cruise or discounted hotel stay sounds pretty great right about now, doesn’t it?
But that’s exactly what scammers want you to think. Before you know it, they’re sipping margaritas on the beach with your hard-earned money, and you’re left a victim of a travel phone scam (with no free cruise in sight).
Travel phone scams — sometimes called vacation phone scams, vacation specialist scam calls, or travel prize scams — all have one thing in common: They’re carefully designed to defraud you.
You don’t have to be another vacation phone scam casualty. Here, we’ll educate you on what travel phone scams are, how to identify them, and the actions you can take to block scam calls and texts — for good.
Vacation phone scams can take the form of robocalls, cold calls, or spam text messages, and they typically offer some kind of special discount, package deal, prize, or free trip. This scam tactic preys on people’s love of bargains and desire to escape.
Like all phone scams, vacation scam calls and texts will attempt to steal your money or extract personal or financial information from you.
Travel phone scams are actually part of a broader problem with travel fraud. According to the FTC, from January to March 2021, consumers lost $26 million to travel, timeshare, and vacation rental fraud, with a median reported loss of approximately $1,100 per incident.
The Better Business Bureau has issued warnings about an increase in cases involving scammers who pretend to be airline ticket brokers or travel agents, and spoofed websites masquerading as booking platforms for airfare, hotels, or rental cars are on the rise, as well. (Spoofed websites mimic the sites of legitimate companies, but are fraudulent and aim to steal personal information.)
And the problem is getting worse. RoboKiller data shows that travel-focused robocalls will grow to almost 5 billion in 2021 in the U.S. — an 80% increase from 2020. Travel-related spam texts are projected to increase to 2.25 billion in 2021, which represents a 300% increase from 2020.
There are a few common travel phone scams, and they can come via cold calls, robocalls or spam text messages.
Often, scammers pose as legitimate companies to trick consumers into giving out personal information. Name any popular travel brand — they’ve probably had their name fraudulently referenced in a vacation phone scam.
Discounted or free vacation scam calls
Vacation offer scams are among the top scams of 2021 identified by RoboKiller. These look like offers for free cruises, discounted travel packages, or other enticing travel deals.
A common robocall strategy involves sending unauthorized pre-recorded messages from travel brands such as Marriott and Booking.com to garner trust. But these Marriott vacation scam calls are just that — scams.
Travel prize scams
Similar to free vacation scam calls, travel prize scams claim that you’ve won a prize in the form of a vacation voucher or discounted vacation package.
Victims are asked to provide personal information to receive the itinerary or tickets, or to pay a fee to access the prize. Often, callers don’t realize they’ve been scammed until it comes time to use the bogus tickets.
Remember, if you ever receive a call saying you won a sweepstakes or contest you don’t remember entering, chances are it’s a scam.
Vacation specialist scam calls
Vacation specialist scam calls are when scammers pose as a vacation specialist or travel agent and offer their services and, usually, an attractive deal.
Travel insurance scams
In 2020, the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud began warning consumers of scammers calling with fake travel insurance offers that cover coronavirus-related trip cancellations at no extra cost. These robocalls and texts often claim to be from mainstream insurance companies, but most standard, legitimate travel insurance policies do not cover viral outbreaks or pandemics, or do so for a steep fee.
Although scammers find devious ways to seem legitimate, there are a few easy ways to spot a travel phone or text scam.
If you think a call or text is a vacation phone scam, don’t worry: There are a few best practices for protecting yourself.
The FTC has successfully stopped people responsible for billions of robocalls, and it continues to work with other agencies to combat travel scams.
Your best protection against vacation phone scams is being a vigilant, informed consumer. Reporting scam calls and texts is also a simple action you can take to fight back.
Here’s how to report scam texts and calls:
Individual cases aren’t investigated by the FTC, but don’t let that discourage you from filing a report; the larger the pile of evidence against scammers, the greater the chance they’ll be caught and charged.
No one wants to be the victim of annoying and dangerous travel phone scams. You can add your phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry, but scammers aren’t known for abiding by the law, so this tactic is often futile.Thankfully, if you want to know how to block robocalls and how to stop getting spam texts, the answer is simple.
The most effective solution to ending travel phone scams is to use a third-party robocall blocker app like RoboKiller. Recommended by the FTC, robocall blockers use call data or reports from users, the FTC, and other sources to predict which calls and texts are illegal or likely scams, then intercepts those messages before they ever reach you.
RoboKiller is a spam call and text blocking app that is 99% effective at stopping unwanted calls and texts before they ever reach you, and it’s the only robocall blocker app that blocks spam calls and text messages using A.I. and machine learning.
Instead of just using consumer feedback or caller ID, RoboKiller identifies the caller or sender behind the message. Untrustworthy numbers are added to a global blacklist of spam numbers, which is updated daily.
You can also use RoboKiller’s phone number lookup to see if the number you’re receiving a call from is a known travel scammer.
Protect yourself from travel phone scams and live life spam-call-free™ with RoboKiller, your key to a world without spam calls or texts.