Travelling is fun, but the adventure becomes memorable when you have the right travel service provider. It’s no news that a lot of Nigerians lose a lot of money daily to fraudsters and imposters that call themselves visa agents, many have fallen prey as a result of their strong will to escape the deteriorating Nigerian economy. These fraudsters con unsuspecting victims under the pretext of being travel service providers; they operate without registered companies, office address or any corporate identity which makes it very tricky to track them.
Travel is a prime target for scammers and con artists looking to make a quick buck off of your desire to take a break or seek greener pastures, while these fake travel agents will entice you with dreamy thoughts and assurance of visa, they put a massive dent on your finances.
Here are tips to avoid getting ripped off.
Get the facts
Before you pay any travel agent or agency, make sure you get all the facts about your trip right, the agent should be able to provide you with all the information regarding visas, the complete itinerary, and how much you’re paying for each aspect of your trip. The lesser details your agent is willing to provide, the more likely it is that you’re getting scammed.
Only make your flight booking with reputable companies like Travelstart for example or ones whose names you recognize. Often these trusted brands appear in the top results of a Google search for travel. Even then, make sure you look for them on social media like Facebook and Instagram to confirm if they are real. Reputable companies most times have their social media pages verified.
Do an independent follow-up
When purchasing a ticket through an agent, make sure you call each hotel and airline to ensure that your reservation is confirmed, paid for and is problem free even if the travel agent confirms that all is well.
With all that is going on in Libya, please be careful out there, If any travel agent promises you employment overseas, make sure you verify everything, call the company, confirm everything on your own, double-checking can never hurt, and you’ll know first-hand that everything is verified before you take your trip.
This might not be easy to do, but it important you see proof that the business is a documented legitimate business, look for company registration certificates, business licenses, and accreditations that give you a sense of assurance before parting with your money.
A travel agency that couldn’t provide you with most of these without telling you is probably bogus. You may even ask to speak with customers that have used their services before any travel options or parting with your money, and the more you have to convince you the better for you
All travel agents have accreditation in place to endorse them with the certificate of authenticity. This regulates travel agent activities and maintains discipline and professionalism within the industry. IATA (International Air Transport Association) NCCA (Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority) NANTA (The National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies). These accreditation schemes provide peace of mind when purchasing travel.
No recommendations, referrals, and reviews
If you find no one recommending a “new” travel agency that “just started business last month,” then you must beware. A worthy and experienced travel agency with years of experience on the job must have satisfied customers who have used it recommending it to others.
You must also be on the lookout for reviews, both positive and negative. Reviews are expected to be positive, but a few negative reviews thrown into hundreds of positive reviews gives credence and value to the opinions of people who have used the services of the travel agency under review.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Beware of shortcuts
Do not agree if your travel tour company or travel agency suggests that you dress in a particular way to deceive immigration officials, or pass a shortcut route to avoid unpleasant scenarios, or pay so that can (disvirgin) your passports with stamps in and out – it most probably a scam to rip you off. Asking you to travel by one way when the other way is the most commonly used and generally approved should raise questions in your mind as to the intentions of the travel agency. or suggesting the use of contacts or through backdoor channels, and anything that seems a shortcut or fishy should get you flying out the door.
No Office Address
Does that tell you anything? Scammers that operate a fake travel agency usually have no physical office address. DO NOT conduct travel matters in any person home, Ask for their address and visit the office, make sure they have the business names and accreditations displayed.
This may be tough but it is very essential. Inasmuch as so many businesses have moved to online platforms, there still has to be the presence of a physical office regardless. To effectively run a travel agency, you need to have a certain level of staff strength, a place that staff report to, certain documents and so on.
There are several other pointers to alert you to the scams perpetrated by fake travel agencies, but the ones listed above should give you heads-up on what more to know about travel deal scammers anywhere in the world.
Finally, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!