The summer vacation season is finally here. This means travel time for many families. Have you booked your trip yet? There’s actually someone who’s more excited about your trip than you are and it’s the scammers hoping to rake in millions from unsuspecting travelers. This time of year travel scams surge targeting everyone from college students to families and even the grandparents back home. Here are a few smart safety travel tips to protect you, your family and friends during the spring and summer travel season:
· Do Not Post Your Trip on Social Media—telling people when you’re going away and where you’re going is advertising your absence and leaves you, your friends and family open to scams (and your home open to theft). One such scam that occurs often comes in the form of an email from your account that has been hacked and sent to a friend or relative. The email tells a terrible tale of either being mugged or somehow losing all your money while on vacation. The result is always a need for money to be wired. Since the email is coming from someone they know people will sometimes believe it. Remind your friends and family to never wire money without talking to you or someone you’re traveling with first.
· Avoid the Vacation Rental Scam—one of the biggest scams today is a form of online scam that targets travelers booking hotels and vacation homes. Renters are enticed by an incredible deal and book it online with a payment wire. When they arrive to their destination, the hotel or rental home exists, but the rental itself didn’t book the reservation and have no room waiting for you. Always pay with a credit card that has a fraud prevention guarantee, book through well known travel websites and companies, and call the properties directly to confirm that they do offer rentals and have availability when you are looking to book.
· Beware of High Pressure Travel Club Companies—time share style companies have been around forever. But some of today’stravel club companies employ unscrupulous tactics and high pressure sales to entice consumers into purchasing their vacation club memberships. Consumers believe they are getting something for free by attending travel club sales presentations and then are under the belief they are joining the vacation club at a reduced price after high pressure tactics. They soon find out they are not getting a good deal and could have purchased the same vacation for less elsewhere. In general, vacation clubs are a common source of travel complaints so it’s best to not agree to the presentation in the first place.
· Steer Clear of Shared WiFi if Possible—most people understand the dangers of using an open public WiFi hotspot. Did you also know you also have to watch out for protected networks at hotels and other venues that require a password? Anytime you use a shared WiFi network in any public spot, it’s easy for someone to intercept your data and monitor what you’re doing. They know what sites you’re visiting, your account passwords, emails, and more.
· If a Deal Sounds too Good to Be True, It Probably Is—if a deal sounds incredibly cheap, there’s a strong likelihood it’s a scam. Companies aren’t about to give you an 80% discount on your travel and stay. Protect yourself from scams by always using a credit card with fraud protection, always get everything in writing, play it safe by booking direct with a company (whether it’s United Airlines or a resort in Mexico) and do your research on a site like Trip Advisor.
Before you get wrapped up in the idea of a warm getaway, do your homework and proceed with caution to protect yourself and your family. You can also use a site like BeenVerified for their property search feature that is perfect for verifying homeowner information and avoiding the many scams that proliferate on Craig’s List and other sites that specialize in vacation rentals. You can also use it in conjunction with a people search when transacting on Airbnb.
Justin Lavelle is a Scams Prevention Expert and the Communications Director of BeenVerified.com. BeenVerified is a leading source of online background checks and contact information. It helps people discover, understand and use public data in their everyday lives and can provide peace of mind by offering a fast, easy and affordable way to do background checks on potential dates. BeenVerified allows individuals to find more information about people, phone numbers, email addresses and property records. www.beenverified.com