With so many new online travel companies that keep popping up, how do you know which ones are legitimate? When you’re spending your hard earned money on travel, you want to be sure that you’re buying from a reputable company. Here are some tips to help you differentiate between a real company and one that could be bogus. 1. Look for a customer service telephone number. You should never do business with a site that doesn’t publish it’s telephone number. Also, you can check to see if it has an address that it operates from. You can verify by calling them and also by checking directory service. 2. Avoid any sites that request cash only. This is a BIG red flag. You want to purchase with a credit card or cash on delivery but most times, a credit card is the only option. Keep in mind too that with a credit card, you can dispute charges if the product is misrepresented or doesn’t arrive. You may also want to consider insuring your card. For a small fee, you can be rest assured that should anything happen to your card, you are covered. 3. Look for a section on the site that describes its security and privacy, returns policy and a guarantee. You can check to see if the company you’re dealing with uses security protocols (these ensure that your credit card can’t be viewed by unauthorized parties) by searching through the help section, information or about us. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and SET (Secure Electronic Transaction) are examples of security protocols. 4. Look for a company background, customer feedback and travel industry affiliations. 5. Check the better business bureau or you can even search for who is behind a dot com domain by searching Network Solutions. It is one of the larger registration companies but won’t include businesses who didn’t register with them. There are many ways to verify if a company is legit or not. Keep these tips in mind the next time you are doing online travel booking. Remember too that a great source of information will come from your fellow travelers. You can visit forums and answer sites to ask any travel questions that you may have, and you’re sure to receive unbiased information! These are a few of our favorites Happy Travels!