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State warns about questionable sites that charge fees for help with Safe Travels program

Published: May. 10, 2021 at 5:41 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Ahead of the summer travel season, the state is warning about questionable websites that charge a fee for visitors or returning residents.

The official Safe Travels website walks you through the steps and does not cost anything.

The state's Safe Travels website
The state's Safe Travels website(None)

It also warns about other pages that offer to help but charge fees. At least one forces the user into a monthly subscription, even if the passenger only flies into the islands once.

The Better Business Bureau said potential scammers appear to be capitalizing on the confusion of the program.

“Misleading people into thinking it’s the website they need to go to,” said BBB spokesperson Roseann Freitas.

Freitas said passengers may not be aware of the constantly changing travel restriction in Hawaii until it’s close to their departure date.

“When they find out they immediately do that search and these types of websites pop up and they make it seem so easy to do.”

One site lists an address at Waterfront Plaza but without a suite number, and the company is not listed on the directory.

“We didn’t find them registered in the state of Hawaii and that right there is a red flag,” Freitas said, adding the parent company is based in Jamaica, New York in a residence ― not a business location.

“If you’re doing business in Hawaii you must be registered here.”

The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau also said they have also been getting complaints about the company.

“We have received some inquiries from travelers who used this site and questioned its authenticity as well as people who continued to be charged after they left Hawaii,” a spokesperson said, in a statement.

State warning about questionable traveler websites
State warning about questionable traveler websites(None)

The BBB said travelers should look for websites that end in “.gov” and always read the fine print before agreeing to the terms.

Also, Freitas said, check the refund policy. If the company does not offer any way to get a refund or credit, that could be a sign that it’s not a legitimate business.

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