5 tips to avoid Umrah travel agency scams

by SHAUQI WAHAB

IMAGINE your parents’ excitement to travel to Mecca for their pilgrimage, only to be cut short when they were stranded in the airport for hours before realising that they have been scammed.

Last month, Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (Motac) secretary of the licence department Roslan Mohammad was reported as saying that up to RM9 million worth of travel agency scam activities have been recorded this year, and people often overlook the tiny details during the agreement.

“For example, the person deals with ABC Travel and Tours Sdn Bhd, but ABC Destination Sdn Bhd appears in the bank details instead. The name sounds similar, so the public will think it is legit,” he said.

It is important to always be vigilant and take precautions to avoid falling victim to travel agency scams, especially when planning religious journeys like Umrah.

Motac has given a few tips to ensure one deals with a legitimate and licensed travel agency.

Check the company’s legitimacy

When performing a transaction with a company, check whether the agency is licensed with Motac.

Being aware of Motac’s warning list before dealing with a tour agency is also useful to avoid being scammed.

Analyse the package

Understanding package details is crucial to avoid paying an exorbitant amount, or falling into the trap of subscribing to fake packages.

One should compare the prices of different tour agencies and be wary if the price gap is too wide and unrealistic.

Verifying payment processes is also vital in safeguarding from potential travel agency scams.

Understanding the T&C

Understand the details, terms, and conditions of the package, as well as the travel agency’s offers on insurance and takaful before confirming the booking.

By doing so, an individual should be able to detect dubious terms and conditions, hence securing their financials.

Keep the receipts

If the above-mentioned tips were already followed but one still got scammed, it would be a big help to keep records of transactions and communications, as it provides evidence in the event of disputes or issues regarding travel agency scams.

One example would be to take screenshots of all the text conversations with the agency and send all the recordings to the authorities if there is a dispute.

Seek recommendations

To be safe and ensure that your parents have the best experience in their spiritual journey, it is better to seek recommendations from friends and family who have performed the Umrah.

Personal experiences and referrals can often provide valuable insights into the reliability and credibility of a travel agency.

Also, always check if the travel agency is licensed with Motac. If it is, it would be easier for them to take immediate action if any misconduct occurs.

By being proactive and thorough in the planning and booking processes, you can minimise the risk of falling victim to travel agency scams and ensure a safe and fulfilling pilgrimage experience.