Travel Scams & The World Cup

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Travel Scams

With the FIFA World Cup right around the corner, would-be scammers are actively looking for the next targets.

Major events like the World Cup, the Olympics, the Super Bowl, and even Presidential inaugurations are ripe with opportunity for travel scammers. That’s because die-hard fans are willing to spend good money to attend what they consider an event of a lifetime.

With the World Cup, the biggest cases of fraud we’ve seen are related to fictitious lotteries. You’ll receive an email saying you’ve won a lottery draw of highly coveted tickets, and….surprise, surprise, you’re expected to share personal information, pay a fee upfront to claim your prize, or there’s a link containing malware–which means it can corrupt your personal financial information, or worse, steal it.

The lottery scam is an easy one to detect. Think about it: you can’t win a lottery if you never even entered! But the other scams are a little more difficult to navigate.

Watch out for the word “package.” That implies airfare, hotel and game tickets, and that’s often not the case. Every year, the Department of Transportation issues this warning around college bowl games and the Super Bowl. But there’s an existing federal rule that every tour and travel operator must fully disclose whether or not tickets to the big games are included in the “package” they are selling.

This DOT rule was enacted in 1994 after a major scam against Wisconsin fans who bought “packages” to the Rose Bowl—only to discover that game tickets weren’t part of the deal. They flew out to Pasadena only to watch the game from their hotel rooms.

If someone is offering you a sports trip “package,” insist that game tickets be included in the printed wording, not just the promise of seats.

Also, if they are asking for a substantial deposit up front, insist that they confirm that your deposit money is going into an independent escrow account that can only be released to them after the event is concluded.

And finally, always pay with a credit card, never with cash, a wire transfer or a check. Credit card payments offer you more protection, because under federal law, if you contract for goods or services with a credit card purchase and don’t receive them, you can easily dispute the bill, and the credit card company will issue you a credit.