Travel club gotchas

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Expensive vacations to exotic places often seem out of reach. So many people join travel clubs, which promise years of discounted airfare, hotels and dining. (KFSN)

Expensive vacations to exotic places often seem out of reach. So many people join travel clubs, which promise years of discounted airfare, hotels and dining. But Consumer Reports has found that hundreds of those dream vacations have turned into nightmares.

Problems with travel clubs have been found throughout the country. The attorneys general of several states have gone after at least six of these clubs obtaining settlements from $50,000 to $7,000,000. And in at least one case, an owner was sentenced to prison.

Some red flags you should watch out for:

-- an unsolicited offer, like a postcard promising free airfare
-- a high-pressure sales presentation
-- expensive up-front costs
-- offers that seem too good to be true

Before you spend any money on a travel club, Consumer Reports recommends researching it online at the Better Business Bureau website BBB.org. And check customer reviews online. They can be really useful.

If you think you've been the victim of a travel scam you should contact the Better Business Bureau to see if you can get your money back. You can also file a complaint with your state's consumer protection office.

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