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UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

UMass woman’s basketball ends FIU Holiday Classic with 65-47 loss to Drexel -

December 29, 2016

UMass men’s basketball finishes non-conference schedule strong with win over Georgia State -

December 28, 2016

Brett Boeing joins UMass hockey for second half of season -

December 28, 2016

Identity theft is no vacation

MCT

It’s that time of the year again – time for a nice, stress-free trip away from the cold.

But beware: Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or a weeklong tropical vacation, if you’re not careful, travel scams could leave you broke and less than relaxed.  Many of these scams are posted in the halls of school buildings, sandwiched in-between legitimate offers and appear oh-so-tempting because of their low prices. But don’t be fooled! According to the Better Business Bureau, these bogus offers con vacationers out of an average of $10 billion annually. So, do some research before you fork over your cash.

Parents are always telling us, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Well, now’s the time to heed their advice. Pay attention to how the deal was presented to you; if you get an email offer, a phone offer, or a flyer in the mail, it’s probably bogus.

Another type of scam making its way around is the “you have won an all-inclusive vacation” as a result of a sweepstakes you never actually signed up for. Usually, the end result of these scams is that whenever you’re ready to take your vacation, the travel company you have booked through has mysteriously disappeared.

These scams sometimes seem like great deals, but they aren’t. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) have a few tips to help you avoid bogus travel packages and find the real deal:

  • Check out the operator. Avoid high-pressure sales pitches for school break packages. Ask the operator to send you information about the business and a list of satisfied customers.
  • Check with local travel agents to see if the operator is legitimate.
  • Read the fine print. Get a copy of the operator/participant contract. This will tell you the conditions under which the operator can change flight schedules (usually charters can be canceled for any reason by the operator up until 10 days before the trip), hotel accommodations (operators may put you up in an alternate hotel listed in the operator contract that is not as nice as the hotel advertised in the package materials), and the rules and penalties for cancellations. Ask about cancellation insurance.
  • Rules state that an operator cannot ask for or accept your payment until you have signed and returned the contract.
  • Understand your rights. Department of Transportation rules state that you have a right to cancel a charter package without penalty if the operator makes a “major change.” These include a change of departure or return date or city, a hotel substitution to a property not named in the charter operator/participant contract, or a package price increase of more than 10 percent.
  • Pay by credit card. This gives you more protection than using cash or a check/debit card. If you pay by check/debit card for a charter package, make sure it’s payable to an escrow account (as required by federal law for charters) and call the bank handling the account to verify its validity. Be wary of charter operators who are reluctant to provide escrow bank information- they may be selling another firm’s space- or who tell you they’ll send a courier to pick up your money.
  • If you pay for a scam package with a check/debit card, congratulations, chances are you just became another victim of identity theft. Hope you like dealing with your credit card company, bank and federal government. As for cash? Well, you’re never seeing it again.

A good resource for checking out a company’s credibility is the Better Business Bureau website, www.bbb.org. This website allows visitors to enter the company name and address and read reviews, complaints, contact information and more. The website also offers an easy-to-understand grading system for companies from A to F. Just take a gander before you commit to any companies and keep these tips in mind when you’re making your spring break plans.

It would be awful to have an amazing vacation planned, brag about it to your friends, spend a lot of money on it, and have it turn out to be a scam.

Kimberly Wilson is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at kwilson@student.umass.edu.

Comments
One Response to “Identity theft is no vacation”
  1. pulekha says:

    Identity theft has become a major, major problem! And living without protection is like living in a crime infested neighborhood and not having protection on your home. You would probably at least have a really good guard dog and a fence right? Well, not protecting your identity today is the equivalent of living in that neighborhood and refusing to even lock your door. It’s so sad that it’s come to this, but there are always tradeoffs in life. Because we want better medical coverage and a nicer car we pay more to protect and insure them.
    Likewise, with something as amazing as the World Wide Web there come tradeoffs also. One tradeoff for us having access to almost everything is that others have access to almost everything about us, our information. And that includes our personal information like social security numbers, banking information and even your medical and criminal history.
    Luckily there is a lot of information out to help us understand and protect ourselves from these heartless criminals. Here is an informational website put together to help you and your family. We hope you find it helpful. Identity theft

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