Q: I received a postcard in the mail saying I won a FREE CRUISE. Is this legitimate?
A: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!”
Aside from bona fide contests and sweepstakes that YOU CHOOSE to enter, there are numerous travel scams circulating all the time. Of course, everyone likes to win a prize and this seems particularly attractive to recipients during these challenging economic times.
You are right to be suspicious. Have you won a 7 night cruise and “if you call quickly” also airline tickets? Did it have a photo of a cruise ship with a distinctive logo and perhaps also a recognizable airline logo? But NO company name, just a toll-free number and p.o. box for the return address? In fact, look closely and the logos are close facsimiles. And the address and phone number change with each subsequent mailing. These fly-by-night companies have to keep two steps in front of the law.
Buyer Beware! This is a variation on a classic travel scam. You will probably be required to attend an (undoubtedly high-pressure sales pitch) presentation for a “vacation club” (a topic I will discuss another time). Anyway to collect your prize, there will be a number of “required” fees: reservation fees, deposit fees, processing fees and voucher activation fees (?) which all curiously add up to the actual price you would pay a reputable travel agency or the cruise line for that cruise. When you win a legitimate prize only the government taxes, security fees and port charges are your responsibility.
Also, be aware that any time you disclose your personal information to an unknown company on a toll-free line, they can then sell your name, adress, phone number and/or e-mail to third parties. We have now moved from scam to spam.
And need I even say it, never, never, never give them your credit card number!!!
The worst case scenario is returning from your free vacation to discover that a moving van pulled up in your driveway during your absence and your home is now empty. YOU gave them your address and they knew exactly how long you would be away! It has now turned out to be one very expensive vacation.
Don’t get caught and be an April Fool. Work with companies and professionals you know & trust!
For more information, contact Jacintha Perera
Accredited (ACC) & Master Cruise Counsellor (MCC)
(916) 392-1520 or (866) 345-ISLE