Facebook Travel Scams-Learn to Spot the Fakers

Tips to Spot Fake Pages or Posts

Summer is officially here which guarantees a few things.  First, that your family may be gearing up for a vacation. Second, you’re seeing a ton of travel related posts on Facebook.  Third, the travel scammers crawl out from under their rocks and try to bait you with “free” once in a lifetime vacations.

I know you’ve seen the posts.  Your friends and family have shared them.  You may have even engaged in one.  “We’ve had some last minute cancellations on this cruise so we’re giving away a cabin for 4!”  “We have 5 gift bags full of $5000 travel vouchers to ….”  All you have to do to win is like the post, share the post, like the page, click on this link, etc.

Do Not Fall For This!

As the owner of a travel business, these scams irk me to the bone and I will be the first one to comment on your shared post that this is a scam.  Legit big travel companies do not conduct giveaways in this manner, EVER.  If the Disney Corporation, Universal Studios, Southwest Airlines, etc. are doing a giveaway, you will be directed to an official website where you will fill out a form with your basic information.  These are secured sites with official contest rules, terms and conditions.  Basically, the large travel companies are not giving you several thousand dollars worth of product on something as informal as a Facebook post.

So, How Do You Spot the Fakers?

1) Look at the page title.  Is it spelled correctly?  Is there odd punctuation?  Fake pages will use a company title but will have to make small changes to register the page.  So, instead of “Walt Disney World”, it may say “walt disney world” or “Walt disney World”.  Or, you’ll see the odd punctuation, like “Carnival Cruise.”, with the period at the end of the name.

2) Look for verification.  Business that have been verified by Facebook will have either a blue or gray check mark by the title.  Getting verified by Facebook involves submitting documentation that proves you are registering an actual business (so your state business license, for example).

Like this:                              or this:          

 

Now, there are plenty of businesses that have Facebook pages that do not feature this check mark.  And they are completely legitimate businesses. BUT, the major travel companies are going to have the check marks.

3) Check the page likes.  Large companies have huge followings.  Walt Disney World, for example, has over 16 million page likes.  A travel scam page that goes by the name of a major company will have nowhere near the following and that is a big red flag.

4) Scan through the posts to see how long the page has been operating.  Established businesses jumped onto the Facebook bandwagon long ago. They post often and the content is varied.  Scammers set up their pages very recently, may only have a handful of posts or photos, and they are usually all of the same fabulous giveaway nature.

Is it wrong to do a travel related giveaway on Facebook?  No.  Should you trust a Facebook page that is attempting to pass itself off as a legitimate big business?  OF COURSE NOT!  And that is my major issue with all of these pages.  There may be folks out there that are legitimately giving away free travel.  But, they are not passing themselves off as a major travel business like these pages seem to invariably do.  If they’re trying to be sneaky, they’re probably not legit.  Common sense, right?

Oops, I Clicked on It.  What Do I Do Now?

If you have accidentally liked a post or page that you suspect is a scam, or shared a post like this, I would recommend deleting the post and un-following the page.  You may also want to change your Facebook password for good measure (and really, you should be doing that regularly anyway).  Do not ever, ever, ever provide your personal information on posts like these or the links they may provide to do so.   If you see your friends or family sharing these posts, please comment on the post or message them privately to let them know that they have potentially shared a scam.

We all love giveaways.  Full disclosure: I enter every official travel giveaway I see.  No harm in that.  But in this age of hackers and scammers, we have to be very smart about what we view and interact with on the internet.

Feel free to message me anytime if you stumble on a post that you think may be a scam and need a second opinion.  And when you’re ready to book your next vacation, go ahead and request a quote and we’ll get you all set up.  Be safe out there, my peoples!