Maui News

State Joins National Effort to Combat Deceptive Travel Promoters

June 6, 2013, 1:47 PM HST
* Updated June 6, 3:33 PM
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Hawaiʻi, Photo by Wendy Osher.

Hawaiʻi. Photo by Wendy Osher.

By Maui Now Staff

Hawaiʻi has joined a multi-state law enforcement initiative coordinated by the Federal Trade Commission to combat deceptive travel promoters, state officials announced today.

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Office of Consumer Protection issued an the alert warning consumers of “unscrupulous” promoters, who they say are “tricking” individuals into purchasing deeply discounted or free vacation packages.

State officials say the deceptive practice involves lengthy, high-pressure sales presentations, that consumers are required to attend.  According to the DCCA, consumers often receive nothing of value after paying thousands of dollars in fees.

Today’s announcement coincides with the Federal Trade Commission’s recent enforcement of 80 civil actions in 28 states.

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Bruce Kim, executive director of the Office of Consumer Protection provided some tips on how to be protected from deceptive offers.

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“Before signing anything, check the company out with the BBB for consumer complaints against the company. You should ask to see the company’s written cancellation policy and ask a lot of questions, including that they put all their promises in writing before you agree to anything,” said Kim in a press release.

DCCA officials issued a press release with a list of warning signs to look out for including the following:

  • If you are told that you “won a free vacation,” but you have to pay some fees first.
  • The prize company wants your credit card number.
  • They cold-call, cold-text, or email you out of the blue. (Before you do business with any company you do not know, call the attorney-general and local consumer protection agencies in the company’s home state to check for complaints; then search online for consumer complaints.)
  • They do not, or cannot, provide specifics.
  • You get pressure to sign up for a travel club for great deals on future vacations.
  • You get a robocall about it.  (According to the DCCA, robocalls from companies are illegal if you have not given a company written permission to call you, even if you have not signed up for the national Do Not Call Registry.)

The DCCA also advises that consumers consider making travel arrangements through licensed travel agents.

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Victims of deceptive sales practices, are asked to contact the DCCA’s Consumer Resource Center at 587-4272 to file a complaint.

 

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