Don’t let volcanoes, other irrational travel safety fears, ruin your summer vacation

Worried that your trip to Hawaii will come to an explosive climax after hot lava engulfs your oceanside rental? That’s just one of the irrational travel fears spreading faster than a Puna brush fire as the summer vacation season starts

This is how a mystery shopper scam cost her thousands

Michele Turner recently received an unsolicited invitation to become a secret shopper for Walmart. This new job sounded unbelievably easy and lucrative. So she quickly accepted the offer. But what happened next cost her $1,700 as she joined the ranks of victims of this mystery shopper scam.

How to avoid this vacation rental wire transfer mistake

Margot Rowland and her husband just wanted to take their grandchildren on a memorable journey to Paris. So she scoured the HomeAway site and found the perfect vacation home for the family. But as their travel plans were coming together, she made a wire transfer mistake that the bank could not reverse. And now the trip and their $3,000 are in jeopardy.

What you need to know about that SSSS stamp on your boarding pass

SSSS! Behold the four letters that you don’t ever want to see on your boarding pass. If you find the Secondary Security Screening Selection stamp on your ticket, you should know that the TSA agents will be treating you to an extra-thorough and specialized security screening. Lucky you!

But how, and by whom, are passengers selected for this additional form of screening? After Jo Freeman’s recent unpleasant close encounter of the TSA kind, she wants to know.

This is what an advocacy site for grown-ups looks like

If you want to know what an advocacy site for grown-ups looks like, you’ve come to the right place.

For example, have you checked out our comments recently? I just did. They were thoughtful, helpful, and respectful. I kept looking, and it occurred to me that comments aren’t the only thing that have changed. The site is different.

Different, as in better.

Trump administration: Remove fee restrictions, consumer advocate, from airline bill!

The Trump administration may be committed to lifting “regulatory burdens” from airlines, but there are one or two other things from which it also wants to free the industry: proposed restrictions on excessive fees — and a new consumer advocate.

I’ve never told anyone these advocacy secrets

The near-death experiences. The lawsuits we should have lost. The cases we won, even though we had no case.

I have stories to tell, and as our spring fundraiser gets under way, I’m going to tell them. The reason? I hope you’ll understand how fragile this site is — and how dependent it is on the support of readers like you. Simply put, I can’t do this without you.

Should you book your vacation rental online through a third-party site?

If you’re like most travelers, you book your vacation rental online through a third-party website. Of the top 100 vacation-rental sites, 76 percent are third-party sites — Booking.com, TripAdvisor.com and Airbnb.com are the top three — according to a study by Semrush.com, an online marketing service.

Whose side are you on? Here’s a hint

One of the most common reader questions we get here is, “Whose side are you on?” It happens when my advocacy team, or I, gently turn down someone’s request for help — something we often do in our Case Dismissed posts.

The answer is: We’re on your side, of course. But we have to say “no” to make our “yeses” as effective as they can be.

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