While our click-and-pay digital lifestyle makes accessing travel and entertainment more convenient, for every app or website we loop into our travel plans, crooks gain a potential pathway into our lives.
This summer, be mindful that while you intend to relax and unwind a little, cybercriminals are working overtime to catch consumers off guard. Here are just a few of the latest scams that could affect your family travel plans this summer and a few tips on how to amp your security.
5 Summer Scams to Look Out For
- Bogus booking sites. If that flight, accommodation, or rental deal is too good to be true, pause before you purchase. According to a recent study, 30% of respondents have been defrauded by malicious travel deals.
Summer safety tip: Pause before you purchase and think before you click. Scammers will use fake websites, apps, or phishing emails to get you to purchase. These scams are designed to access your credit card, personal information, or to download malware onto your device. Unsure about a company’s legitimacy? Check the Better Business Bureau for reviews from previous customers. Also, use a comprehensive security solution that includes McAfee WebAdvisor to help identify malicious websites.
- Unsecured wi-fi attacks. If you are staying in a hotel and access its wifi for your family’s entertainment or if you check your email or bank account from a coffee house (or any other public wifi) while on vacation, you are opening you and your family up to serious risk. Cyber thieves are like moths to a flame when it comes to public wifi. They can eavesdrop and grab personal data or access your devices.
Summer safety tip: In public? Connect with caution. Consider subscribing to a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your online activity and give your family secure internet access no matter where you are.
- Vacation phone/direct mail scams. Haven’t you heard the good news? You (or your child) have been chosen to travel free or be part of an exclusive student experience abroad. You may think you’d never fall for such a call, but people get lured in by super-friendly phone agents all the time pitching free or bargain vacations, camps, and tours. Be alert to offers promoted for a “Limited Time Only,” or that require “Payment in Advance.”
Summer safety tip: Never pay a company with a pre-paid debit card or via wiring the funds. If you do purchase only do so with a credit card since credit card companies allow you to contest fraudulent charges.
- Device theft. Distracted vacationers are the perfect target for thieves looking to steal devices, be it a phone, laptop, tablet, or game. Crooks hope to access your data or resell your hardware for fast cash.
Summer safety tip: Most lost devices get left behind by the owner, so keep your device close and secure at all times. Make sure your smartphone is password-protected, the lock screen is enabled, and the Find My Phone app is on.
- Rideshare scams. Rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft can be your only transportation while on a family vacation. Be on alert for several scams including fraudulent charges, phishing emails from the ride company asking you to reset your password, and, of course, fake/criminal drivers.
Summer safety tip: Never change your password by clicking an email or text link. Always use the app itself or go directly to the company’s website. Double-check your ride receipt for extra charges, and always confirm the name of your driver and make of the vehicle before getting inside.
If you’ve been a victim of any travel scam, you can report your experience to any or all of these places: BBB.org/ScamTracker, FTC Complaint Assist, or the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) to help other consumers avoid falling prey to travel scams.