Don't get caught on a travel scam on the Web.
That was the message of a conference held Thursday in Washington, D.C., by the American Society of Travel Agents - putting a high-tech spin on the tale of the spider and the fly.
"It's amazing to me that people will actually give their credit-card numbers out to strangers they just met on the Internet, who they only know by a phony screen name," said Art Weiss, assistant attorney general of Texas in a statement. "But it is happening, and people need to take precautions."
Many victims learn of these scams through their computers, he warned. In one, participants buy into a travel program and receive cards that identify them as independent travel agents.
They are promised commissions or travel discounts from airlines and cruise
lines if they persuade others to buy travel products. But in fact, the
commissions never materialize or are much less than promised.
Here are some questions to ask when you are promised a travel bargain,
according to ASTA:
-- Does the price seem too good to be true?
-- Are you pressed for your credit card number and an immediate decision?
-- Do solicitors refuse to give you their full names or sent you information about the offer?
Answering yes to any of these questions is a warning signal to check out the offer carefully, the group said.
Travel scams are not limited to the Web. However, the warning reflects not only concerns about the security but also the increasing competitive pressure that the travel industry faces from the Internet.