Do you have plans for a summer getaway? Whether it’s a spontaneous weekend trip or a well-planned lengthy vacation, criminals frequently target unsuspecting travelers with a variety of scams. Fraudsters are constantly coming up with new scams, but below we’ve shared some of the newest and most prevalent ones consumers should be on the lookout for this travel season:
- Travel and Accommodations – The internet is a great place to find really good deals on airfare, cruises, hotels and resorts and more. Unfortunately, it’s also easy to fall into a scammer’s snare by clicking on “too good to be true” opportunities. When booking your trip, use only reputable websites that offer consumer protection and consider a payment method that will back you up in the event of a problem. Sources like the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau can give you insight into which businesses are safe to book with and have good customer satisfaction reviews.
One consumer narrowly missed becoming a victim of an “all-inclusive resort getaway” when she spotted the too-good-to-be-true signs. Some of those signs included the need for an expensive “processing fee” that had to be paid on the spot, as well as high-pressure tactics like refusing to let her call back after confirming with her husband.
- “But the Condo is Supposed to Be Right Here!” – The technology age is awesome, but it’s also made life easy for scammers. A few simple cut-and-pastes and a flashy website can all be done in a matter of minutes, so creating fake hotel and resort properties is effortless. To avoid this, spend time researching and reading the reviews on these properties and Googling the addresses of them before you book.
Consumer sites like Craigslist are prime places to list a bogus resort property. The owner of the condo takes your deposit and emails you very real-looking accommodation information, but when you arrive, either the listing isn’t as it was described, your reservation has never been made (because the person who posted the ad doesn’t own a condo there), or the property itself doesn’t exist.
- Your Hotel is a Danger Zone – There are a lot of different ways your hotel accommodations can lead to physical theft or identity theft. Key card copying, credit card skimming and hacking over hotel wifi are just a handful of the dangers, so take action to protect yourself while you’re enjoying some down-time by only using public wifi for non-sensitive internet searches. If you must log into sensitive accounts, consider using a VPN to protect your privacy. And keep an eye on who is handling your credit cards and how they are being handled as much as possible to reduce risk of it being skimmed while it’s in the hands of others.
One traveler returned from a quick trip out of town and almost immediately began receiving alerts from her bank. Someone at the hotel had copied her credit card onto a hotel key blank, most likely during the checkout process and while she was standing at the desk. The issuing bank informed her that the fraudulent charges were made with a physical copy of the card, but that the location of the charges was simply too far from where she’d checked in to be her.
- You Made it Home Safely, But You’re not Done – Pour over your credit card and bank card statements, looking for signs of unusual activity. Be on the lookout for an uptick in things like junk mail offers, medical bills that don’t belong to you, robocalls from spammers or any other signs that someone may have gained access to your accounts. For good measure, it doesn’t hurt to change the passwords on your important accounts after a long trip to be on the safe side.
After any kind of trip, it’s a good idea to check your bank and credit card statements. Don’t wait for an alert notifying you of an unauthorized charge. Contact your financial institution immediately if you see something on your statement or your online banking site that doesn’t belong there.
Don’t let these warnings and tips put a damper on your vacation plans. Being armed with this kind of foresight can help mitigate your risk of falling victim to a travel scam and increase the chances that all your travel memories will be good ones.
Should you need further assistance, The Identity Theft Resources Center is available to assist victims of these types of crimes at no-cost. If you have the financial means, consider purchasing identity theft protection from a reputable provider who can help save you time monitoring your information and further strengthen your protection. Leading identity protection providers offer services that can sometimes cut through the red-tape as well as having access to resources that may not be available without significant time and effort on your part.