As travel restrictions are lifted, don't get scammed on that summer vacation

Now that COVID-19 travel restrictions are lifted in some states, many are booking that summer vacation.

While there are lots of travel deals out there, it's important to research travel restrictions and understand how "open" your travel destination is due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The most important thing is you need to realize each state is different when it comes to restrictions, so make sure you do your research before booking the hotel, flight, or rental car. Catherine Honeycutt with the Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina says, "Are they checking temperatures, do they require masks, all those things so that you're not surprised, the day of travel."

The BBB also warns that you watch out for websites offering travel deals that are too good to be true. Often this happens with copycat look-alike websites. The same goes for fake beach rentals where a scammer steals pictures off legit rental sites and then posts the ads on social media or craigslist. Before making any payment, research the travel website to see what others are saying and look at the fine print to see what the total cost includes, if there any restrictions, and cancellation penalties. Also, paying with a credit card gives you additional protection if something should go wrong with the travel reservation.

Here are some other tips from the BBB:

Plan ahead. Typically, the earlier you make reservations, the better the deals you will find. It is also important to research travel restrictions and understand how "open" your travel destination is due to the pandemic. California is going to be different from Florida which is going to be different from New York.

Avoid broad internet searches. Try to avoid entering phrases like 'best deals' into whichever search engine you use. Broad search terms like that can sometimes lead you to websites that look official, but are designed solely to rip people off.

Get trip details in writing. Before making final payment, get all the details of the trip in writing. This should include the total cost, restrictions, cancellation penalties, and names of the airlines and hotels. Also, review and keep a copy of the airline's and hotel's cancellation and refund policies, as well as the cancellation policies of the travel agency or booking site you are using.

Consider travel insurance. Travel insurance covers things like trip cancellations due to unforeseen circumstances, such as a pandemic. There are different levels of coverage based on what type of plan you purchase. Ask a lot of questions, and always read the fine print to see what's covered and what's not.

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