As the temperatures warm up and more people get vaccinated, you might be starting to feel a little wanderlust, but if you're planning that summer vacation, the Better Business Bureau has a few things you should keep in mind.
An increase in travel
As Idaho News 6 has reported, Boise Airport officials say they're already seeing an increase in passenger traffic this year compared to last.
"In January, we saw 157,000 passengers. In February, that number improved by about 4,000 passengers," said Sean Briggs, Boise Airport spokesperson.
With the arrival of four new flights to the airport this summer, Briggs predicts growth will happen at a quicker rate.
"In June and July 2021 there’s actually a greater capacity than there was in 2019 and as you remember 2019 was a record year for the Boise Airport with over 4.1 million passengers."
Whether you're planning to travel out of the country or stay a little closer to home, the Better Business Bureau says it's important to do the following:
Research travel restrictions.
Travel restrictions vary by state and country, and they are constantly changing. Visit the U.S. State Department’s "Know Before You Go" page and the CDC Travel Planner to get up-to-date information on any COVID-19 related travel restrictions.
"Do you need to show that you have had a COVID vaccine or a negative COVID test? Those are things you need to know prior to getting to your destination," explained BBB's Rebecca Barr.
Know the risk of purchasing discounted tickets.
There are plenty of deals on flights. Unfortunately, discounted tickets rarely provide refunds and will likely charge you if you cancel or reschedule. Be willing to pay extra for fully refundable flights, car rentals, and accommodations.
Understand what travel insurance covers.
Purchasing travel insurance is wise, but it may not cover every situation. You have the option to add insurance directly with the airline when you purchase your ticket, or you can purchase travel insurance from a third party. Those two options are not one and the same. The level of coverage varies, so choose the plan you are most comfortable with. Read the fine print to understand how your policy works. The BBB says hiring a travel agent to help you navigate the process may not be a bad idea either.
How scammers are trying to cash in
If you're a frequent flyer, you're probably looking into renewing your Trusted Traveler programs--things like TSA precheck or Global Entry.
But frequent flyers be warned. Better Business Bureau is receiving reports about a scam con-artists are using to steal your personal information.
"Con artists are putting up fake websites that look like a real government-issued website and they're asking for your personal and financial information," explained Barr.
Barr says these sites may charge you the cost of the application fee, plus a hefty service fee to cover the cost of their “help.” In addition, you’ll be asked to fill out forms with sensitive, personal information including your full name, passport number and home address.
Even if you pay up, the company may never submit your application form through the correct channels, Barr explains. You will have lost money and shared your personal information with scammers.
Consumers told BBB Scam Tracker that the websites are very convincing.
“When I clicked on the link, it appeared to be an official TSA Precheck site,” one victim reported. “This company asked for all the information as I would expect to provide in the process… including your full name, passport number and home address. Then, you are prompted to pay $140, making it seem I was paying for TSA fee.”
How to protect yourself
Barr says the best way to protect yourself is to always double-check the URL before entering ANY information. Secure links start with [https://]https:// and include a lock icon on the purchase page. In the United States, all government websites end in “.gov.”
To add an extra layer of protection, the BBB recommends buying with your credit card online. Fraudulent charges made on a credit card can usually be disputed, Barr explains.