People who rush to make holiday travel plans risk falling victim to scammers, according to officials with the Better Business Bureau.
A common mistake is to book plane tickets or hotel rooms through a fake website, according to Alyssa Gutierrez, director of communications for the Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina.
Gutierrez said scammers are good at their jobs, and their sites might look legit at first glance.
"People don't really take the time to actually look up, maybe, the business that they say they are. And they give their payment, and once it's gone through, all communication has been lost," she said. "So people really need to take the time, realize if this travel business is legitimate. You know it's always best to book with a business that shows a track record of appeasing its clients."
Gutierrez said even web-savvy consumers can fall for fake travel websites.
"The thing that really is getting people is that they're rushing through and not paying attention," she said. "That leads to more scams happening and people losing money, rather than just being uneducated or gullible."
Gutierrez recommends checking travel sites against the Better Business Bureaus's directory. She also cautions against checking bank info on public wifi, or giving out credit card info over the phone without verifying the caller. She said similar scammers try a common trick over the phone to dupe families who have just checked into a hotel room.
"They ask for personal information, such as a credit card, to finalize the check-in. Or they say, 'You know, we had an issue downstairs, could you please give us credit card information, personal information. And that's a huge red flag, because you're never going to want to give out that financial information over the phone," she said.
Gutierrez recommends following up with hotel management in person. She says people who have been targeted by a scam should call local authorities, and then file a complaint on the BBB's Scam Tracker.