The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services issued a consumer alert today warning Floridians and visitors of an ongoing scam offering fraudulent promotional vacation packages.
Following the travel industry reporting a sharp increase in the number of complaints related to fraudulent Florida vacation packages, the department advises consumers to be wary of robocalls, emails or faxes offering promotional vacation packages purported to have been offered by legitimate travel agencies, such as Expedia, Travelocity, TripAdvisor and more.
“Consumers should always be cautious when receiving unsolicited phone calls or emails saying that they’ve won a ‘special promotion’ or ‘free luxury vacation,’” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “An educated consumer is the best defense against fraud and deception, and I encourage consumers to accesses our tips and resources at FreshFromFlorida.com.”
Consumers can protect themselves against travel/ vacation scams with the following tips:
· Find out if the seller of travel is registered with the department and if any complaints have been filed against it.
· Never give out credit card or checking account numbers over the phone unless the consumer initiated the call and is certain of the company’s credentials.
· Read the entire contract thoroughly, ask questions and do not sign it if there is any doubt.
· If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
As the state’s clearinghouse for consumer complaints, the department educates the public, investigates complaints and provides mediation on behalf of consumers. The department recovered nearly $3 million for Florida consumers last year from moving companies, vehicle repair shops, pawn shops, health studios, telemarketers, sellers of travel and more.
Consumers who believe fraud has taken place can contact the department’s consumer protection and information hotline at 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) or, for Spanish speakers, 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832). For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit FreshFromFlorida.com.