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Travel scam uses HR department to target Boise employees

Does it seem too good to be true? That’s because it’s a scam, the BBB warns.
Does it seem too good to be true? That’s because it’s a scam, the BBB warns. Provided by the Better Business Bureau

In big, bold letters, the fax boasts the words $149 PER PERSON for a five-day, four-night, meals-included getaway to an island destination. Alarms should be going off in your head, the ones signaling that the offer can’t be true.

The fax is a take on the classic travel scam, with a twist to make it seem legitimate. It appears to be from your company’s human resources department and is addressed to “All Employees.” One Boise office reported this fax to the Better Business Bureau this month.

“For a limited time only, we are offering to all employees access to our company vacation packages at the wholesale rate,” reads the first line of the fax.

The page is littered with logos of legitimate companies such as Visa, Mastercard and Travelocity. There are a phone-numbers and promo codes, and even a phone number to request to be removed from the mailing list. Don’t call that one, either.

A company should let employees know what special offers are available and how the company will provide that information. As an employer, you should encourage your team members to verify offers with the real HR department and remind them not to call phone numbers on unsolicited emails or faxes.

If you are looking to book travel this summer, for a family vacation, business trip or a training conference, keep in mind a few tips from the BBB:

▪  Use a travel business you trust. From hotels to rental cars, ask family and friends to recommend a business and go to bbb.org to read BBB Business Reviews.

▪  Get everything in writing, including travel itineraries, booking confirmations and vouchers. Get a copy of cancellation and refund policies.

▪  Consider travel insurance in case of medical emergencies or other needs to cancel. Ask a lot of questions, and read the fine print to see what’s covered.

▪  Pay with a credit card. Paying with a credit card gives you additional protection if something goes wrong with the travel reservation.

▪  Be alert for travel scams. Like the fax, unsolicited mail, email and websites offering deeply discounted travel packages could leave you out of a vacation and your money if you’re not careful.

Dale Dixon is chief innovation officer for Better Business Bureau Northwest. 342-4649, dale.dixon@thebbb.org. This column appears in the May 18-June 14, 2016, edition of the Idaho Statesman’s Business Insider magazine as part of a special section on travel.

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