In her article Make It a Scam-Free Vacation, Lisa Lake from the Federal Trade Commission offers steps to prevent your dream vacation from becoming a nightmare.
First: Do your homework.
In addition to getting recommendations from family and friends, do some online research on travel companies, hotels and agents with the words scam, review, or complaint.
Consider extra costs. Resort fees and taxes can add $50 or more to a nightly hotel cost.
Before you book, read the cancellation and refund policies for any destination.
Only buy travel insurance from a licensed agent.
Bring a copy of the trip confirmation details, including the rate and extras you were promised.
Second: Be travel smart.
Don't pay for "prize" vacations. No real company will ask you to pay for a prize--and be careful about booking with a resort or timeshare offer, which may include the need to pay taxes or fees, plus high-pressure sales pitches.
Don't sign anything until you know what you are getting.
Use a credit card, which gives you more protection than paying with cash or a debit card.
Third: Protect your identity.
Take only the IDs and credit/debit cards you really need. Also, make copies of these, too, and carry the copies in a separate location so that you can more easily report lost or stolen cards.
Bring a copy of your insurance card.
Don't assume a Wi-Fi hotspot in a hotel, restaurant, or airport is secure. Avoid using mobile apps that require personal or financial information or use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service.