Nov. 28, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan
As holiday travel ramps up, so too do travel scams. In response to an uptick in complaints, a local politician has introduced new legislation to help protect New York residents against fraud and false advertising.
State Senator Jose Peralta announced new legislation today in East Elmhurst that would require travel agents to register with the New York Department of State, providing more oversight to the industry to protect consumers.
If approved, the new legislation would assign a registration number to each travel agent that would need to be displayed on all paperwork and materials from that agent, and would allow the DOS to crack down on shady operators by revoking their license or fining them.
“Consumers are ripped off every day with lies, scams, false travel packages,” said Peralta. “Currently, the Department of State can already investigate consumer protection allegations, but my legislation will further protections by implementing a more regimented system where consumers can play a proactive role in protecting their interests.”
Peralta’s proposal would piggyback on the current Truth in Travel Act, which prohibits misrepresentation of services and gives the District Attorney the power to crack down on bad operators. However the new law would take it a step further by imposing fines and regulating the industry more closely.
“The registry will be a great first step in helping consumers connect with legitimate travel coordinators. Consumers will be better able to inform themselves about whom they do business with,” said Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown. “This legislation will be particularly useful for our growing immigrant communities that are too often victimized by scam artists posing as travel agents and experts.”
In order to fund the new enforcement, the law would require travel agents to pay $100 to register with the DOS, and $100 to renew the registration each year. Registrations would be non-transferable, and the DOS would vet each candidate before issuing the registration.
“If someone spends their hard-earned money to book a beach resort for their family, he or she should not arrive at their destination only to find an unsanitary or unsafe motel that was not what they bargained for. This is about preventing fraud, and this is common sense,” Peralta added.