The Mexican Caribbean is once again proving to be one of the leading travel destinations worldwide this summer. With millions of tourists expected to visit the region over the following months, authorities are on alert over a rising trend: fake travel package scams and other online crimes targeting tourists. With scammers using increasingly sophisticated methods, it’s important to note a few critical features that can help prevent you from falling victim to online fraud.
For a long time, petty crimes such as pickpocketing have been the major concern for travelers in the Mexican Caribbean. The internet, however, is proving to be a useful avenue for scammers to target unsuspecting tourists. This summer has seen a flurry of reports of fraud in various parts of the Mexican Caribbean, affecting all parts of the tourism industry. Already before the summer season began, authorities were paying close attention to online vacation rentals, which are up 40% compared to previous years.
With up to 400,000 people vacationing each day in Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean in July alone, fraudsters are employing increasingly clever tactics to scam tourists out of their money. The problem has been especially prominent in the southern parts of the state – Bacalar, Mahahaul, and Chetumal among others – which are reporting an average of 5 cases of fraudulent vacation packages per day compared to the 10 monthly complaints pre-pandemic. Follow these tips, and you’ll help minimize your exposure to tourism scams.
Choose An Established Travel Agency
An increasing number of tourists are falling victim to fake travel agency scams that advertise tours or other travel packages that are too good to be true. These scams work by promising luxury services – including all-inclusive hotels and tours – at low prices. Fake all-inclusive trips are often advertised on social media, with pictures showcasing beautiful resorts and amenities. Some scammers go the extra mile and feature fake reviews and elaborate QR codes to give the impression of a legit travel agency.
The catch: the travel agency doesn’t exist, nor do the things they promise. If booking your tour or vacation package with a Mexican company, you can find a list of reputable and registered travel agencies on the Mexican Travel Association’s website.
Avoid Booking Accommodation On Social media
Online vacation rental scams have spread like wildfire on social media sites including Facebook and Instagram. Visitors should avoid these websites, instead opting for verified properties on another platform such as Airbnb. However, online rentals lack the guarantees offered by hotels, and visitors may face last-minute cancellations. Even when a property looks trustworthy, it can lead to complicated legal situations that can take years to solve due to slow bureaucracy.
Book Tours Through Reputable Tour Websites
Although many tours can be booked through hotels or in person, a good idea is to book prior to your vacation through verified platforms such as Viator or Tripadvisor. There are several advantages to doing so. First, visitors can see the full prices of the tour, plus any extras that need to be paid on the spot. Moreover, they can compare different tours, including amenities, and read reviews.
Ensure That Your Booking Can Be Done Using Secure Payment Methods
It is essential to verify that your booking, be it an online rental, tour, or travel package can be paid for using secure banking methods. Avoid services that ask you to make a large deposit upfront or companies that use unverified payment systems.
With these tips in mind, travelers can enjoy the Mexican Caribbean with peace of mind. If you encounter false advertising or suspect being a victim of a scam, you can contact the local Cybersecuiry unit here.
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