College students' quests for the least expensive travel options can leave them vulnerable to fraud, said Alexis Rochefort, a public relations specialist with the Institute of Certified Travel Agents.
"[Students] are looking for the cheapest way, so they overlook things," Rochefort
said."The consciousness and consumer awareness has not been raised with students." Rochefort
said that there are two very common types of scams.The first is the misrepresentation of products and services.Often, the conditions and amenities of lodging are exaggerated.
"The hotel is sold as a beautiful piece of property, but it has cockroaches," Rochefort
said."[Or students] will purchase a suite with an ocean view and there is no suite with an ocean view."
The second most prevalent type of fraud is the overbooking of airline and lodging, Rochefort
There are numerous other tips that can help students to avoid becoming scam victims, Rochefort
said.The most important one is to find a Certified Travel Counselor or Certified Travel Associate. Rochefort
said students in particular often assume that using certified professionals will be more expensive, but often they can provide students with cheaper travel packages.Rochefort
also said that CTCs or CTAs cater to their clients' interests to create the best vacations possible.
"They provide you with personal service," she
said."They are going to ask you questions.They are going to evaluate you and what you want."
Another trap students fall into is planning their vacations on the Internet, which Rochefort
said is risky because of the lack of information available and the ease with which vendors can deceive customers.
"You have no idea what's behind an Internet site," she
said."You are not dealing with a person."
Once students have decided upon a reputable company or vendor, they should be careful when choosing which payment method to use, Rochefort
"If you pay with cash, you will never see it again," she
said."I would not use a money order [either]."
Both methods almost guarantee students will not receive refunds if they are scammed because the money cannot be traced and used as proof of purchase and payment, Rochefort
said.The best method of payment is a credit card because "it is a more trackable receipt and contract," Rochefort