A vacation should be a fun time for all, however problems can arise that ruin your planned getaway. Because most vacations require payment in advance, travelers can be a prime target for scammers.
Here are tips to help avoid problems:
- Be skeptical about unsolicited travel offers, telephone calls, emails, or mail saying that you won a fabulous vacation or chance to book for free or at a very low rate. It may be a scam.
- Get complete details about your trip in writing before paying, including total price, any cancellation and change penalties, and specific information about what you are buying. The fewer details you get, the more likely you will have problems later.
- If you use a travel agency, make sure the agency is registered with the Attorney General’s Seller of Travel (SOT) program. Registration is required by law. You can check if a travel agency is registered by using the online Seller Search, by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (213) 269-6564. While registration does not mean the agency is reputable or otherwise approved by the State of California, a valid registration shows the company has at least followed the law regarding registration and may have a trust account or bond that can provide added protection. If you’re at a travel agency, ask to see their registration acknowledgement—a one page-document issued by the SOT program. Be sure to check the expiration date.
- If you are not using a well-known company, do some research. Check how long they have been in business and search online for complaints.
- Consider paying by credit card. This may provide added protection because you may be able to get the charges reversed. Check with your credit card issuer on how and when you may reverse charges.
- Double-check your reservations directly with airlines, hotels, car rental companies and others to confirm your trip and that you have not been scammed.
To File a Complaint:
You can file a complaint about a travel agency, including letting us know they are not properly registered, using our Seller of Travel Consumer Complaint form, or by contacting the SOT program by email, mail or telephone:
Seller of Travel Program
Department of Justice
300 South Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Phone: (213) 269-6564
If you need to make a claim for a refund:
- Check the cancellation, change, and refund policies of the travel agency or company and request a refund.
- Under certain circumstances, California consumers may be able to make a refund claim with the Travel Consumer Restitution Corporation (TCRC). The TCRC is not part of the Attorney General’s office; it is a nonprofit organization created for the benefit of California consumers who suffer certain travel-related losses. To be eligible, the travel agency you purchased travel from must be registered with the Attorney General’s Seller of Travel (SOT) program and participate in the TCRC. For more information, including how to file a claim, go to the TCRC website.
- Most, but not all, sellers of travel are required to deposit payments into a trust account or to obtain a bond on behalf of their customers. If the travel agency has a trust account or bond, this may provide additional rights and protections for a refund claim