In these days, a potential travel customer could be hoodwinked by nefarious scammers. These scammers have become very creative and skilled in tricking clients to give up their hard-earned money for tour packages that are too good to be true. As a result, the customers end up stranded in a tourist destination that is not what they booked, staying in a rundown hotel or pension house that is too dirty, with no extra cash to improve their situation – thus becoming frustrated and disappointed in their experience.
We’ve read about those poor clients who’ve had sad stories – so let’s avoid those situations right from the start and follow these safety measures when engaging travel agencies:
- Check their Facebook account for indicators. What kind of indicators? Check if their page is recently created, its settings are private, the contact person’s page has few friends, the page has few or no reviews, the page has minimal content, they use dubious and/or few photos, and the contact person’s profile photo is not a human face. A key feature of a Facebook page is that it is already verified: when a page is verified, it means the page owner has submitted the necessary documents for Facebook to verify them and award the “check” symbol alongside the page’s name.
- Check the offer. As mentioned earlier, if it sounds too good to be true, then it’s likely to be fake. Find the balance between the inclusions you want and the budget you have. If the inclusions are too top-of-the-class to be included in the package that your budget can afford, then it’s too good to be true. A special mention on accommodations: be wary of options that are still available and cheap despite being in the duration of the peak season and all others are fully booked.
- Check the payment options. Legitimate travel agencies prefer to use banks to receive deposits and conduct other transactions. For the bank’s part, they would have obligated the account holder to provide valid IDs in order to open the account – this ensures that the account is being opened by a legitimate person. Be careful of travel agencies that use money remittance centers; this is not to disparage travel agents that do use remittance centers, but banks are safer compared to them. Regardless of the method of payment, steer clear of those who rush you into paying.
- Check the contact details. It is highly recommended that you contact the person or page not just via online but by talking to the person. It means you have to call. Ensure that you get the full name of the person you’re talking.
These measures may cause you to reconsider traveling at all, but don’t worry. The travel and tours industry is composed mostly of networks of people who are conscious of their need to serve the clients and will always ensure that their customers’ needs are met. They are also conscious of their reputation and will do anything to prevent scammers and the like from tarnishing them, which is why they will do everything to ensure that scams are exposed.
Never think of scammers as an excuse from going out and traveling the Philippines and the world. At the end of the day, it is up to you to explore the many tourist destinations and even those spots that are out of the spotlight. Whether here or there, we at Atomic Traveller will support you in your desire to travel – and we won’t scam you in the process.
PS. If ever you sniffed a scammer, report them to the authorities immediately! Thank you very much.