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Travel Scams: How to Avoid Losing Your Money
The members of the American Society of Travel Agents are concerned that consumers may be losing millions of dollars to phony travel companies which offer, but fail to deliver, promised fabulous vacations at low prices. We'd rather have you spend your hard earned money on a vacation that you will actually take and enjoy, rather than throwing it away.

If you've been offered a great bargain on a cruise or resort vacation, but you can't seem to get all the details about it unless you pay the company, you may be dealing with a travel scam. Typically, scam operators won't give you full and complete information in writing until after you've given them a credit card number, certified check or money order. Once you do get further information, there will be restrictions and conditions which make it more expensive, and even impossible, to take your trip.

While getting a refund is sometimes possible, it's better to avoid paying anything in the first place. You might miss a legitimate good deal, but chances are you'll save yourself time and money.

ASTA's Recommendations:

  • Be extremely skeptical about postcard and phone solicitations which say you've been selected to receive a fabulous vacation;
  • Never give out your credit card number unless you initiate the transaction and you are confident about the company with which you are doing business;
  • You should receive complete details in writing about any trip prior to payment. These details should include the total price; cancellation and change penalties, if any; and specific information about all components of the package;
  • If you insist on calling a 900 number in response to a travel solicitation, understand the charges and know the risks;
  • Walk away from high pressure sales presentations which don't allow you time to evaluate the offer, or which require that you disclose your income;
  • Be suspicious of companies which require that you wait at least 60 days to take your trip.

If you think you've been scammed, contact your local Better Business Bureau, state Consumer Affairs Office, state attorney general's office, or e-mail ASTA's Consumer Affairs Department at for information and assistance.

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Card Mill Scams - Beware of 'Card Mill' Promotions Offering Free or Reduced Travel as Travel Agent Perks
ASTA's Consumer Affairs Department cautions consumers to beware of offers from "card mills:" companies that sell questionable travel agent credentials. Consumers may be led to believe that such cards allow them to travel at free or reduced rates.

Organizations making these offers are known throughout the travel industry as card mills because they routinely offer credentials by the thousands in the form of an identification card that is sold for a significant fee. In turn, these cards would presumably be accepted by every segment of the travel industry. Many suppliers of travel, however, do not accept them.

If you come across an offer to purchase a card that supposedly allows you to receive travel agent benefits or discounts, e-mail ASTA's Consumer Affairs Department at

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Airline Complaints
Did you get bumped again because the airline overbooked your flight?
Miffed because you paid more for your ticket than the guy next to you?

The Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General wants to hear what you have to say. You can fill out online surveys about airline fares and overbooking.

You can also call, write, or e-mail the Aviation Consumer Protection Division to register your concerns about airline service with DOT. To record your comments, call 202.366.2220. Send an e-mail to or write to:

Aviation Consumer Protection Division
Room 4107, C-75
Washington, DC 20590

Want to know the latest figures about airline on-time arrivals, mishandled baggage, or other consumer complaints? Read the Air Travel Consumer Report at







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