Travel Scams to Watch Out for This Holiday Season from Travel Scams to Watch Out for This Holiday Season
Travel Scams to Watch Out for This Holiday Season
You probably know by now not to trust strangers, especially online, who ask for money to pay hospital bills, visa fees, or legal expenses and/or seems to have many sudden problems overseas. Unfortunately, scam artists have come up with neater ways to trick unsuspecting vacationers.
There is something about the holidays that makes people want to donate and help others. This is admirable but be careful what charities you’re supporting. Scammers are aware this is the time to get as much as they can from you. ScamAwareness.org advices people to verify if the charity of their choice and its web address are legitimate. If you do decide to donate, use a credit card because you can later dispute the charge, just in case.
Fake Wi-Fi spots
Travelers won’t use their own data when hotels offer free Wi-Fi. The problem is that scam artists know that. They set up fake wireless hotspot. Once you get on it they can steal information from your phone through the connection. Favorite locations for this type of fraud are crowded places such as hotel lounges and Starbucks-like cafes and hangout places.
Unfortunately, not everything that is free is safe. Public wireless connections should be avoided, if possible, especially if you’re dealing with sensitive personal information such as bank accounts, passwords, usernames, etc. Just like with fake Wi-Fi spots, scammers can easily gain access to that information.
The “parcel-waiting” scam
The time of year when people buy and send each other gifts is around the corner. You may come home one day and see a note that says a delivery attempt was made but no one was home to sign for the package and you should call a number to find out more details. Don’t call that number. It may be to an overseas service and you’ll be charged a huge amount of money without even knowing.
Few days go by without finding some kind of deals being offered to you for takeout food. While most of them are probably legitimate, a few won’t be and you may be the unlucky one who orders from them. Avoid places if you have to give out personal and credit card information over the phone or those that don’t let you pay when they deliver. If you get these coupons under the door of your hotel room, call the reception desk to make sure they are not fake.
Sites selling extremely discounted products
The FBI is warning about shopping online from sites that look too good to be true. If a site is not familiar to you, don’t buy anything. Resist the urge to buy a designer bag for a tenth of the price because chances are the offer is fake. You may not only end up paying for something you won’t receive but you’ll also have given out your personal information to scammers to who use to for identity theft.
Cabbies taking the long route
This may be one of the oldest tricks in the book. The people who are most likely to not know whether a driver is taking the long route are out-of-towners. That’s why these types of cabbies are near airports and bus stations. You’re better off taking public transportation not just because it’s cheaper, but also because you may get to your destination faster. Taxi and rideshare drivers tend to take advantage of their fares by taking passengers on the “long-haul” route.
“Problem with your credit card”
This happens most commonly in hotels. You’re in your room after a long flight and are resting in bed watching TV. Then you get a call from, supposedly, the front desk and a nice lade or a gentleman will politely explain that there is a problem with your credit card and the solution is to give your number again. Don’t do it; keep in mind that hotels will always tell you in person if there is an issue with your bill.
Fake rental listings
As is the case with fake shopping deals online, you’re likely to see many fake rental listings during the holidays. Scam artists know this is when many people travel and want to take advantage of the excitement potential vacationers feel when planning a trip. More tech-savvy scammers can easily hijack real listings and change them to make them too appealing. Verify if the place really exists first.
Posting photos online
Refrain from posting selfies and photos of the entire family on vacation every minute of every day. You’re basically telling thieves that no one is home and welcoming them to break in. Post picture of every gorgeous place you’ve been once you’re already home. The world won’t end if you wait a few days.
Fake gift cards
Gift card sales are worth billion every year. It’s no surprise that scam artists are targeting you with them. Fake e-cards may be loaded with links to viruses. A few popular scams, according to Scambusters.org include crooks swapping blank gift cards that they stole for cards activated by clerks when they purchase them and thieves opening the packaging of new gift cards and replacing them with used, worthless cards.
Bogus show tickets
Don’t buy tickets to theme parks, cruises, Broadway performances, etc. if they are offered at greatly discounted rates. Needless to say, don’t purchase ticket from shady people who approach you on the street. Technology has given very high quality printers to the average consumer. Look carefully at the ticket and look for typos and other errors. Know that, for example, Ticketmaster doesn’t use comas to write dates and there is no space between the time and AM or PM, according to DetectAFake.
Always be skeptical of travel vouchers or offers that look like they are too good. Chances are they are not real; no one is looking to not make money off of you during the holidays. Fraudsters may email you or inform you otherwise that you’ve won a travel prize, which can be a stay at a luxurious hotel for half the price or an entire holiday packages. If you have to provide personal information to redeem the prize, it’s a fake.
People looking for a job may get offers of high-paying, work-at-home jobs for which all they need to do is give their personal information. Don’t be naïve and save your money.