Have You Been "Selected" for a Trip? -- BEWARE
How do consumers get involved with unethical sellers of travel? Answering advertisements placed by travel agencies that offer trips to exotic places at bargain prices is one way. Another is filling out cards for vacation trips and dropping them in boxes at flea markets, fairs or other places that attract large crowds. You might receive an internet pop-up informing you that you have won a free vacation or you may also receive a "certificate" or a postcard in the mail. Often, the offer is for a discount travel package.
If you answer an ad, an internet pop-up, or fill out a card, chances are you'll be contacted by a representative of the travel agency informing you that you've been selected for your dream vacation. The choice of words should sound a warning. If you're told you've won a free trip or travel package, Florida law stipulates that you cannot be charged anything other than the cost to get your prize to you. If it's mailed, you can be charged postage; if it's delivered by special carrier, you can be charged the carrier's fee.
Sometimes, however, you'll be told you've been selected for a cruise or vacation -- but you'll need to send an advance payment to cover certain fees. This should be a warning that you've been targeted for something that may be less than a legitimate offer.
Consumers who agree to pay the fees involved in the prizes for which they've been selected should be aware that they might not be getting what they expect. In a worst-case scenario, they'll discover they have nothing to show for their expense and only the courts to turn to for recourse.
Always check around with a couple of local agencies and compare what is available and the prices. Conduct internet searches and ask the travel representatives questions about the offer.