Travel Scams: Where to Get Help

If you've been scammed, here's where to turn first.

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If you are the victim of any kind of travel scam, contact one or more of the following agencies or associations:

State and Local Government Agencies

  • State consumer protection office. To find the consumer protection office in your state or county, see Nolo's article State Consumer Protection Offices or check out http://www.consumeraction.gov/state.shtml.
  • Local prosecutor. Call the nearest district attorney or state attorney general's office and ask whether there is a consumer fraud division.
  • State licensing board. Some states are starting to license travel providers. Ask your state attorney general if travel providers are licensed in your state.

Federal Government Agencies

  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Although the FTC generally does not intervene in individual consumer disputes, any information you provide might lead to an FTC investigation. Also, the FTC has free consumer publications that could be helpful before or after you travel, including Renting a Car, Car Rental Guide, 900 Numbers, Telemarketing Travel Fraud, Timeshare Resales and Traveler's Advisory: Get What You Pay For. Contact the FTC by calling 877-FTC-HELP or by visiting its website at www.ftc.gov.

  • Department of Transportation If you have a consumer concern or complaint regarding air services, you can contact the U.S. Department of Transportation's Aviation Consumer Protection Division at 400 Seventh Street, SW, Washington, D.C. 20590, call 202-366-2220, or visit its website at http://airconsumer.dot.gov/http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/problems.htm.

  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC). If you were defrauded by a telemarketer or phone solicitor, or were sucked in when a travel service provider aired a fraudulent ad on radio or television, contact the FCC at 888-CALL FCC or visit its website (where you can complete a complaint form online) at www.fcc.gov/cib.

  • U.S. Postal Service. If you were cheated by anyone who used the U.S. mail, file a complaint with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. To do so, contact your local inspector's office or complete a complaint form online at https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/.

Private Organizations

  • American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). If you have a complaint concerning an ASTA member, contact ASTA by calling 703-739-2782 or visit its website at www.astanet.com.

  • United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA). If you have a complaint concerning a USTOA member or a question about USTOA's consumer protection plan, contact USTOA by calling 212-599-6599 or visit its website at www.ustoa.com.

  • Better Business Bureau (BBB). You can provide a public service to other travelers by filing a complaint with all offices of the BBB where the scammer operates. In addition, the National Council of Better Business Bureaus operates a nationwide system for settling consumer disputes through mediation and arbitration. So, if you can find the company, you might be able to get some recourse through a BBB. You can reach the BBB at www.bbb.org.

  • National Fraud Information Center. NFIC can help you file a complaint with the appropriate federal agency, give you tips on how to avoid becoming the victim of a scam, or send you consumer publications. You can reach NFIC by calling 800-876-7060 or by visiting its website at www.fraud.org.

Finding an Attorney

If you've been victimized by a travel scam and want to discuss your legal options -- including your right to recover money damages from those responsible -- you can use Nolo's Lawyer Directory to find an experienced attorney in your area.

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