State gives tips against deceptive travel promoters

Hawaii joins multi-state, multi-national law enforcement initiative

Published  3:28 PM HST Jun 06, 2013
HONOLULU -

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Office of Consumer Protection announced Thursday that it joined in a multi-state, multi-national law enforcement initiative, coordinated by the Federal Trade Commission, to combat deceptive travel promoters.

The state wants consumers to be alert to unscrupulous promoters tricking consumers into purchasing deeply discounted or "free" vacation packages or future travel-related products or services supposedly worth thousands of dollars.

However, most consumers are required to attend lengthy high-pressure sales presentations and often receive nothing of value after paying thousands of dollars in fees.

Thursday's announcement coincides with the announcement of more than 80 civil enforcement actions by the FTC and 28 states; more than 58 criminal prosecutions brought by U.S. attorneys nationwide and local law enforcement agencies; and 24 enforcement actions by international law enforcement agencies in eight countries.  

To protect themselves against deceptive travel offers, Bruce Kim, Executive Director of the Office of Consumer Protection, advises consumers look out for these warning signs:


“Before signing anything, check the company out with the BBB or the DCCA 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," Kim said.

Consumers are also advised to consider making travel arrangements through licensed travel agents.  They will provide more protection from scams, and they earn their commissions through the business that consumers patronize, not the individual consumer.

If anyone believes he or she has been a victim of deceptive sales practices, please contact the DCCA's Consumer Resource Center at 587-4272 and file a complaint.

Visit FTC.gov/travel to learn more about travel scams.

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Office of Consumer Protection is responsible for reviewing, investigating and prosecuting allegations of unfair or deceptive trade practices in consumer transactions.  It has jurisdiction over a wide range of businesses and commercial activities.

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