There’s a revival of global travel underway, but that only means more scams are out there as millions book their trips online or on their smartphones.
According to a recent survey by McAfee, the cybersecurity company, “30% of adults have fallen victim or know someone who has fallen victim to a scam while trying to save money when booking travel, with 33% losing between $500 and $1,000 before their trip has even begun. Of those who had money stolen, 66% have lost up to $1,000.”
Why are these scams proliferating? Online fraudsters know how to target travelers by sending fake offers through email, text and phone calls. Unsuspecting travelers may even be hacked on public wifi networks or money transfer services.
“Knowing the risks doesn’t stop travelers from engaging in the behavior,” the McAfee study found. “While social media is by far the most common online activity for people to use their phones for while on vacation (60%), followed by chatting with friends and family (55%), online banking (35%) and sending money via apps such as PayPal or Venmo (22%).”
Of course, there are a number of safeguards you should heed when booking trips. Here are the most effective tips:
Connect with caution. Be cautious when connecting to Wi-Fi while on vacation and make sure the Wi-Fi is secure and operated by a trusted source.
Avoid public charging stations. Hackers can load malware onto the USB ports, which are often found in airports, train stations and shopping malls, and that malicious software is then transferred to your device when you plug in. This practice is known as ‘juice jacking’.
Check before you book. When confirming if a privately-owned vacation rental is legitimate, check the name of the property owner in public records. Don’t pay for rentals by wire transfer, apps, prepaid cards or gift cards. These types of transactions can’t be reversed if the rental offer is fraudulent.
On the last tip, I recommend using a credit card and a “verified” online booking service that protects your personal information. Do your arrangements at home before you go and use your own network.
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