All it takes is the word FREE, and scammers know they’ve got their victims right where they want them. But as much as they’ve used this tactic to rope people into thinking they’ve won a FREE cruise or vacation, this scam, has reached the end of the line.
This past August, a class action lawsuit (Charvat v. Carnival et al) in Chicago claimed that the Resort Marketing Group violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act when they made automated calls to consumers to offer free cruises with Carnival, Royal Caribbean or Norwegian Cruise lines.
The settlement was worth $7 million to $12.5 million and Resort Marketing Group bought contact information of those who were victimized from a data broker. The lawsuit was filed in 2012 by Philip Charvat, a recipient of one of the phone calls, reported Today. People who received the calls between July 2009 and March 2014 can receive up to $900, or $300 for a maximum of three calls.
Lucky for those who were targeted, their losses were redeemed thanks to the settlement, but despite these scammers getting caught this time around, there will be another wave of scammers attempting to dupe another group of victims with something similar. But before they do, check out some of these vacation scams you should keep on your radar, to avoid being the next on a scammer’s list:
1. It all starts with a ring…
A majority of vacation scams start with a phone call promising an unbelievable prize from a raffle or survey you may (or may not) have entered. As you rack your brain wondering what you may have unknowingly entered, you can’t help but feel that what they’re offering is too good to be true. If you’re getting that gut feeling, it probably is.
2. It’ll just be a “quick” presentation
Key word here was “quick” and they’ve convinced you to redeem your prize at their “showroom” after a presentation. Before you know it, you’re stuck in a 20-minute sales presentation, followed by a couple hours of sales pitches convincing you to invest in some sort of traveler’s membership.
3. Don’t miss out on this “one time offer!”
Try as you might to let them down easy, these sales sharks won’t take NO for an answer. But don’t give in when they tell you a timeshare, club membership, or vacation offer is a one time deal that you’ll never come by again. As persistent as they are to make a sale, they will still be as persistent with the same offer later down the road if they didn’t get you to bite the first time around.
4. Show them the money!
You’ve sat through the presentation, the sales, pitches, and now you can finally redeem your “free vacation”. Or so you thought. There’s one last thing you need to do before you earn the free plane tickets and hotel, hand over that moolah! To be eligible for your free trip, you will have to pay for travel membership, a reservation deposit, or tax and fees. Then, they’ll contact you (of course on their timeline) once they’ve received payment. What happened to “free”?!