With the Coronavirus pandemic restrictions easing after several months of isolation, many people feel the need for a getaway now more than ever!  Before you head out for that much needed rest and relaxation, be sure you are prepared and protected against any identity theft or scams.  Educating yourself on the most common travel scams and fraud related to COVID-19, can help lead to a safe and worry-free vacation.

Be Aware of Vacation Refund Scams

With the Center For Disease Control (CDC) placing travel restrictions across the globe over the last few months, travelers are seeking refunds for previously booked trips. The  Federal Trade Commission has reported travel and vacation scams as common complaints related to the coronavirus.  Complaints describe perpetrators claiming to represent the government or a business, often trying to take advantage of travel and vacation-related cancellations and refunds.

Many Americans have found that travel insurance for previously booked trips does not cover, or has limited benefits, when it comes to COVID-19.  Some travel insurance policies specifically exclude coverage for problems related to epidemics and pandemics.   Others have stated that the coronavirus is now considered a “foreseen event.” This means that some types of coverage within policies may not be applicable or have limited benefits related to the coronavirus outbreak.

Cancel For Any Reason Coverage

If you’re thinking of buying travel insurance, consider buying “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) coverage. This reimburses a portion, usually 50% or 70%,  of your prepaid and non-refundable trip costs.  You usually have to purchase CFAR coverage within 14 to 21 days of your first trip payment. And you may have to cancel your trip at least two days prior to your departure in order to use the CFAR coverage. There may be some exceptions. For example, a travel insurance company may offer this coverage for “cruise only” policies that you can buy anytime before your final trip payment.   However, if someone reaches out to you about travel insurance that covers COVID-19 problems, such as CFAR coverage, that should be a red flag to you that the call or email is likely a scam.  Although canceling for any reason is a legitimate option offered by most travel insurance companies, there are specific limitations on how it can be offered.  It is usually not offered as its own policy.

5 Ways to Protect Yourself From These Scams

  1. Never give out checking account or credit card information over the phone unless you initiated the call and are certain of the company’s credentials.
  2. Beware of high-pressure sales tactics and pitches that require immediate payment. Do not make abrupt decisions. Be especially hesitant if a company offers to have someone collect  your money.
  3. Read the entire contract carefully.  Ask questions, and do not sign it if you have doubts about anything.
  4. Check with other travel agencies in your area and compare the offers.
  5. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Especially now, in the face of a pandemic, constant vigilance is key when planning for travel and vacations!  Stay healthy and secure as you navigate the current environment.   As always, share best practices with employees, clients and your community.

For identity theft protection and financial wellness strategies and solutions, call KII Consulting, Inc. at 1-800-201-5563 or email [email protected]