If you’ve been on the Internet for a while, you probably already know not everything you see online is as good at it seems. Misleading pages and ads are uploaded on the web in the millions every day, luring innocent readers into traps of enticing rewards that later turn out to be something quite different from what is initially promised.
Some of these traps turn out to be total scams, which are aimed at getting people to pay significant sums of money upfront or submit other important information, but many others are smartly constructed to look like they have amazing value to offer that you just can’t ignore. Of course, the actual experience is nowhere close to what you’re promised.
One such misleading trend of this decade is the holiday giveaway. While some of these offers are legit, most are scams one way or another. And if you want to learn to tell them apart, go on and read the rest of this article.
What’s going on with the vacation giveaway market?
Well, the place mostly smells like festering scams created by cheap, swindling con artists. They come in with shiny ads showing pristine beaches in the background and sing all sorts of praises about their genius offers and an amazing holiday giveaway for you. They sound so great and offer you so much it’s almost impossible for a mere mortal to resist the temptation.
It all looks legit. But isn’t always so.
We keep saying “most of these” and “mostly” because we want you to know some of these campaigns are actually legitimate, and we’ll mention one of them in just a bit. Before we do so though, let’s have a quick look at the top two vacation giveaway scams that are popular these days. These are the ones you should stay away from if you don’t want to be scammed out of your money.
1. Join The Club!
You might have been receiving unsolicited invitations to join various vacation clubs on social media, but before they push you over the edge with the endless promises of uber-cheap luxury holidays you need to know they’re almost always scams. We’ve never come across a vacation club that showed any sign of being legitimate.
They are made to swindle club members out of money, and they have a very smart way of making sure you feel no qualms paying up.
They have a beautiful social media page or website with endless gorgeous photos and media to show you how their previous member giveaways have been amazing for their members (Don’t fall for it; it’s all fake!).
They typically say they have major partners in the hospitality industry and once you become a club member, you can claim enormous discounts on all sorts of luxury holidays.
You pay a handsome membership fee and start planning your holiday after going through a large pile of orientation materials, planning away with other new members, only to discover a few weeks in that your login isn’t working. You call the club but nobody answers and soon the phone lines go dark.
Needless to say you never see your money or the vacation you so meticulously planned over the weeks.
2. The Timeshare Trap
Timeshares are horrible, but if you don’t know what they are, let’s take a quick peek.
Timeshares are simply contracts where you invest in a holiday property jointly with one or more partners, the idea being that each shared owner will contribute in the maintenance and utility expenses based on their share of the property in return for that much of holiday time on the property.
Sounds good, right? We’ll say it’s too good.
Over the years, people have come to realize it’s very difficult to get out of a timeshare contract. You don’t really travel to that same destination as much as you thought you would but the overheads are due every month, and the collection agencies involved keep calling you.
The costs definitely outweigh the benefits but when you start looking to sell your share in the property you’ll hardly find any buyers.
This is where the scam comes into play.
You might come across amazing vacation giveaways, pay a couple of hundred bucks to get in the game, and win!
That’s right. They’ll say you won and send you all kinds of beautiful emails to make you believe it, sometimes to get you excited enough to talk some more money out of your wallet.
Here’s the fun part: you’re probably going to get that holiday after all, but it won’t be a lot like what you thought it would be. That lovely condo you thought you’d be spending a whole weekend on might turn out to be a timeshare property with only 12 hours slotted under your name and you have to spend the rest in shoddy accommodations, which your host will make to look like an unexpected problem.
When you come back home, there’s no way you’re getting any refunds.