Home TIPS Cruise Vacation Scams: How To Spot False Wins
Cruise Vacation Scams: How To Spot False Wins PDF Print E-mail

As spring and summer cruise seasons approach, many seniors are making plans for sailing the seven seas. While most ads for cruises are legitimate, whether from your hometown agent, online travel agency and from the cruise lines, here are some phony deals that offer free or bargain cruises, as recently revealed by AARP.

Remember the carnival barker who made big promises with the line, “Tell ya what I’m gonna do fer ya”, but only ripped you off? Here are several modern versions of the same type of pitch.

1. A phone call or Email message congratulates you for winning a free cruise. It may include a vague hint that you’ve done something to make you eligible, such as made a store purchase, on-line buy or used your credit card to get gasoline at a local pump.

The caller will then ask for your credit card number and/or Social Security number to prove your identity as the winner. If you comply, within a day or two the numbers may be used illegally in ID theft purchases or for bank withdrawals from your account. Of course, in those cases, the only salt water you’ll see will be tears of frustration coming from your eyes.

2. The most annoying ones require you to attend what will be called an orientation meeting to prepare for your free cruise. When you get there, you’ll quickly find it’s the old, high-pressure timeshare type of scam along with a heavy pitch.

A cruise may be offered, but it could be sponsored by some rundown Caribbean resort in cahoots with a marginal cruise line. You may opt to get your cruise and island adventure, but it will be a shabby experience. With all the add-ons, it could actually cost more than signing up for a quality vacation with a legitimate travel agency or cruise line.

3. The foreign phone call scam is usually more annoying than highly expensive, but it could cost you several hundred dollars before you can try to cut the callers off with your phone company.

You get a phone call, often by a person with a foreign accent, telling you about winning your free cruise. To claim your prize, you must call a 900 phone number or one with an area code of 876, 868, 809, 758, 784, 664, 473, 441, 284 or 246.

They’re all to foreign countries, and a call will run your bill up at $5 a minute or more while you’re listening to a lengthy phony free cruise pitch. The crooks make money on the costly long distance calls. And, of course, you get no cruise.

Always remember: When a great free offer or deep-discounted cruise deal sounds too good to be true, it will be untrue and inevitably cost you lots of wasted money!

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