NORFOLK, Va. - Starting on Friday a lot of people will be kicking off Memorial Day weekend, which means a lot of traveling in the summer weeks ahead.
While you may have a lot to look forward to, be careful when you book because there are copycat websites that mimic authentic online pages.
News 3 spoke with Shannon Line, from Norfolk, who said she went online to sign up for TSA PreCheck and clicked on the first website that populated from Google. She filled out the form and when she was ready to enter her credit card information, she was being charged the normal $85 as well as a $150 "preparation fee."
Shannon realized that this wasn't legitimate because TSA never charges this extra fee, but others may not.
Emily Barker, a Travel Consultant with Warwick Travel Service Inc., said because of these lookalike websites, she's seen her share of booking blunders.
"[It was probably five or six years ago], I had someone walk into my office in tears with a handful of papers. And she said,' I need your help. She said I bought this from my family to go on this trip. And I found out that I put my credit card in and it was a scam website,'" Barker recalled.
Barker said the criminal on the other end of the screen walked away with the family's $5,000.
"These people go on and they look at the site that they're trying to mimic and they pretty much make it the exact same," she said.
Whether you're an agent working for clients, or a do-it-yourself booker, make sure you're looking at reputable sites like Priceline, Expedia, and Travelocity. For up-to-date travel requirements Barker suggests state department webpages, Sherpa Travel and TSA.gov.
When you're searching online:
- Watch for misspellings on the webpage itself or in the domain
- Book with the agency's official website
- Make sure the website is secure before adding any credit card information
When in doubt, you can always book with a travel consultant.
"Booking with us is just like, doing the Google search yourself and trying to book it on your on the computer yourself. But we don't charge an extra fee [except for airline tickets]," Barker said.
Whatever way you book just make sure you're careful so your vacation doesn't turn into a nightmare.
Click here for more tips from the Better Business Bureau.
If you have a consumer tip or a story you want the News 3 Problem Solvers to look into, email us at email@example.com.