With the government gradually lifting pandemic restrictions, everyone wants to catch a breath of fresh air. The number of people traveling for leisure has shot tremendously, causing a shortage of rental cars. According to information from the Federal Trade Commission, this has led to an upsurge of car rental fraud cases.
Travelers are also having problems reserving vehicles in popular tourist destinations. At a time when demand for rental cars has increased, and the supply dropped, car rental companies have inflated charges. This has created loopholes for scammers to target unsuspecting and desperate clients.
Car rental companies and other consumer protection groups warn tourists of deceptive car reservations run by fake car rental websites. The scammers trick customers by promising to offer them the cars they want through a more effortless and affordable process. Travelers that fall into their trap end up showing at the rental desk only to learn that they don’t exist on the booking list.
How Car Rental Scammers Execute their Tricks
With a simple search of a phrase like “car rental near me” on Google, customers can access car rental companies. However, as Amy Nofziger, director of victim support for the AARP Fraud Watch Network, states, not all websites that appear are genuine. Some are fake, and victims may end up being conned if they contact the owners.
While on call, the fraudster asks the caller to book a reservation through a prepaid gift card or debit card. Once the scammer convinces the victim to give their gift card’s PIN, the fake agency converts the card to cash without hesitation.
As Ms. Nofziger says, it is not easy to understand why people are falling for such tricks. However, scammers continually try to stay ahead and uncovering all their tricks might be hard. Despite that, travelers should realize that hiring a car when many people are travelling is complicated. They need to be suspicious when the deal gets too good.
Numerous Client Complaints
According to complaints reported on the Better Business Bureau’s website, scammers use non-existing names and impersonations during car rental fraud. In one of the incidents, a customer lost $280 to a fraudster pretending to be from Budget. After completing the payment process, the scammer went missing. This prompted the consumer to call the actual Budget number only to learn the reservation was a hoax.
In another experience, a contact posing as Alamo swindled a client’s money and later stopped answering phone calls. Commenting on the case, enterprise holdings that manage Alamo explained that they only accept prepaid cards as payment at the end of a car rental.
How To Avoid Car Rental Scams
Customers should watch out for easy car rental deals, especially in this period of rental car shortage. The Federal Trade Commission provides the following tips to avoid car rental fraud:
- Customers should do a thorough background check of a car rental company website. The assessment can include reviews and comments from other clients.
- Clients should also verify bookings before payment. They can search for the official contact on the genuine car rental website and ask for customer support.
- Travelers should avoid making payments with gift cards and prepaid credit cards. Instead, they should pay via credit cards where they can dispute payments.
Besides following the above tips, another way of dodging car rental scams could be through early reservations. Customers should not wait until the final minutes of a trip planning to rent a car. Such can drive clients to desperate options that expose them to fraudsters.
Are You Planning a Vacation? Watch Out for Fraudsters
Car rental fraud is on the rise due to the high number of travelers facing a shortage of rental cars. Scammers have created fake websites to lure clients with sweet car rental deals that amount to nothing. We provide you with the latest news on travel scams. Stay alert with updates from Anti-Fraud news to avoid losing money through cheap scam tricks.