Scammers are hurrying to beat a new identity theft protection measure

If someone called you on the phone and asked for your social security number, your address, and the correct spelling of your name, would you provide the information? It may be hard to believe, but scammers figure Medicare recipients can be tricked into doing so with their latest telephone scam. But they have to hurry.

Why you’ll leave a tip — whether you want to or not

David Mitroff’s favorite restaurants in New York and San Francisco now quietly add an 18 percent tip to his final bill — before he even has a chance to consider a gratuity.

Automatic tips have also appeared on his hotel bills and when he checks his luggage with the airport skycap. It’s almost as if everyone assumes he wants to tack a few extra dollars onto the final tab, even when he doesn’t.

TSA PreCheck members fume as their lines get longer

It happened to Andy Lundberg when he was flying recently from Kansas City to Baltimore on Southwest Airlines. A Transportation Security Administration screener pointed him to the PreCheck line, where he waited behind a dozen other frequent travelers with the agency’s trusted traveler designation.

6 times when you’re better off without travel insurance

Even though Jon Look is a frequent traveler, he always leaves home without one thing.

“I have never purchased a travel insurance policy,” admits Look, a retired photographer. “It adds expense and complications and rarely pays off.”

Traveling without insurance? Yep, most Americans still do it, and some of them with good reason. Because not everyone needs insurance and some people wouldn’t be able to use it even if they bought it.

As it turns out, there are times when you’ll want to skip that insurance policy. It may not be as often as you think, but it happens.

Pay for your vacation rental with a wire transfer? Yes, but not this way

You’ve found the perfect vacation rental. The owner asks you to pay via wire transfer. Should you do it? Meir Hurwitz, of Brooklyn, N.Y., did, and now he’s out nearly $17,000.

He’s not the first to be taken in by a vacation rental fraud and likely won’t be the last. Over the years this site has carried many stories warning about vacation rental scams. Many of those involved wire transfers.

Here’s how to get an airline to pay your EU 261 claim

When British Airways canceled Lawrence Karp’s recent flight from London to Philadelphia, the airline rebooked him and the other three people in his party on a flight to Newark, N.J. But it denied his EU 261 claim, the European air travel protection law.

Why? According to British Airways, a cabin crew strike caused the flight cancellation. And it contends this strike relieves the airline of paying the EU 261 claim.

What’s ahead for hotel guests in 2018?

When it comes to fees and surcharges, hotel guests are wondering: What’s next?

Mandatory “resort fees” mushroomed last year, even as hotels added new charges for all kinds of things, including cancellations and late checkouts. With pressure to squeeze even more profit from customers, you don’t have to be an industry insider to see where this is going.

Road trippers should take an extra-long test drive in 2018

If you’re looking for a new car, here’s a little advice from your fellow travelers: Take your time. I mean, really take your time. Test drive the vehicle a few extra miles, or hundreds of miles, to make sure the designers didn’t take the day off when they signed off.

I’m not being cute. Some of today’s cars are so thoughtlessly designed that they leave travelers cramped and annoyed. If you’re planning to take a lengthy road trip this spring or summer, you don’t want to be stuck in one of these uncomfortable cars.

Alternative forms of insurance you need to know about now

Think you need travel insurance? Think again.

You might require something else — either a specialized insurance product that protects only one aspect of your trip, or something that isn’t insurance at all.

Call it “alt” insurance.

No, we’re not about to get political. Alt insurance is real and it can protect you regardless of ideological leanings. Sometimes, it isn’t insurance at all, but a different form of protection.

Are some travelers still being given free TSA PreCheck?

Security lines at some airports are long and require that passengers arrive even earlier than the airlines suggest in order to make their flights. Several years ago, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began Trusted Traveler Programs, including TSA PreCheck, which allow passengers who have paid a fee and submitted to a background check to benefit from expedited screening. Travelers with TSA PreCheck do not have to remove laptop computers or liquids from their carry-ons, and are allowed to keep their shoes and sweaters on as they are screened.

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