Taking our tribe on an annual family holiday has always been a top priority for my husband and me. But with 4 sons – who all eat like ridiculous amounts – this can be an expensive exercise. So, like most people, I am always on the lookout for deals and ways to save money to our favourite holiday destinations.
But according to research from McAfee, our need to secure a great deal to a hot destination may mean we are cutting corners and taking risks online. Over one-third of us (32%) report that we are likely to use a website we have never heard of before just because it offers great deals!
And cybercriminals are fully aware of this, so they spend a lot of time and effort creating malicious travel websites and fraudulent links to lure us ‘travel nuts’ away from the reputable online travel players. Their goal is to get us to their fraudulent site, install malware on our devices so they can steal our personal information, passwords and, ideally, our money!
How Many Aussies Have Been Scammed?
McAfee’s research also shows that 1 in 5 of us have either been scammed or nearly scammed when booking a holiday online with many of us (32%) signing up for a deal that turned out to be fake. And horrifyingly, 28% of holiday scam victims only realised that they had been scammed when checking-in to their holiday accommodation!! Can you imagine breaking the news to the kids? Or worse still having to pay twice for the one holiday?
Cybercriminals Also Have Favourite Holiday Hot Spots
Not only are cybercriminals capitalising on our need for a deal when booking a holiday, but they are also targeting our favourite destinations. The findings from McAfee’s research show holiday hot spots such as Thailand, India, the Philippines and the UK generate the riskiest search results when people are on the hunt for holidays online.
The top holiday destinations for Aussies that hackers are targeting via potentially malicious sites:
- New Delhi, India
- Bangkok, Thailand
- London, England
- Phuket, Thailand
- Manila, Philippines
Cybercriminals take advantage of the high search volumes for accommodation and deals in these popular destinations and drive unsuspecting users to their malicious websites often using professional looking links, pop-up ads and even text messages.
What You Can Do to Avoid Being Scammed
With Aussie school holiday just a few weeks away, do not despair! There are definitely steps you can take to protect yourself when booking your Winter getaway. Here are my top tips:
Think Before You Click
With 25% of holiday bookings occurring through email promotions and pop-up ads, it’s essential to properly research the company behind the ads before you proceed with payment. Check out reviews and travel forums to ensure it is a legitimate online travel store. And it’s always best to use a trusted online retailer with a solid reputation even if it costs a little more.
Use Wi-Fi With Caution
Using unsecured Wi-Fi is a risky business when you are travelling. If you absolutely must, ensure it is secured BUT never conduct any financial or sensitive transactions when connected. Investing in a virtual private network (VPN) such as McAfee Safe Connect is the best way to ensure that your connection is secure and your data remains private.
Ensuring your device has current comprehensive security protection, like McAfee Total Protection, will ensure any malicious websites will be identified when you are browsing. It will also protect your device against malware – which could come in handy if you are tricked into visiting a fraudulent site.
So, next time you come across an amazing, bargain-basement deal to Thailand, PLEASE take the time to do your homework. Is the retailer legitimate? What do the reviews say? What are the terms and conditions? And, if it isn’t looking rosy, remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!
‘till next time