With summer not far away now, more and more of us are considering taking a vacation during the warmer time of the year. If you’re like many consumers these days, you likely research travel destinations and providers online and complete bookings using technology, too.
While this provides excellent access to resources and deals, it also opens you up more to facing potential scams. Plus, once you’re at your destination, you may be so excited about being on holiday or so relaxed because you’re away from the office that you don’t pay enough attention to keeping yourself and your belongings and information safe.
Either way, it helps to know some key ways to protect yourself from travel scams of all types so you can better enjoy your next trip.
Take Time to Authenticate Travel Operators Before Finalizing Bookings
For starters, it’s vital to authenticate any companies you plan to book with before you finalize transactions. Many sites and booking apps you find online are helpful, affordable, and useful, but be aware that these things aren’t policed, and scams can be among the options when you look at them. As such, it’s best to verify providers are genuine and authentic ASAP.
While you might read reviews about hotels and other accommodation providers or tour operators and the like, these can be fraudulently generated, too, so you must do some of your own research. For instance, ring a phone number contact to verify that a place or company exists and confirm things like rates, location, room types, inclusions, and so on.
Alternatively, email the vendor to ask your questions, and don’t be afraid to ask for further identification if required. If you don’t get responses or the answers you’re looking for to make you feel you would be booking with a legitimate business, it’s best to move on and try another option.
Look for Inconsistencies and Other Red Flags When Booking
Another tip is to be on the lookout for inconsistencies in the information you learn about a travel company. Check that listing details match up across various websites, social media, and the like, and in your dealings directly with hotels, transport operators, tour companies, etc. If you find that information seems to vary too much, this can be a red flag that a scammer is at work.
Another potential issue is when you get asked to provide too much information right from the start, get pushed into making a booking, or get hounded once a firm has your email address or phone number. Also, if you go ahead and book, always check receipts and your credit or debit card to see that the price you were quoted or believe were being charged is the amount that actually got taken from your account.
Ensure You Use Secure Payment Options
When it comes time to pay for any travel element, take care that you’re using a secure payment option to provide your sensitive financial information. It helps to get a detailed quote in writing first that lists all the factors involved in your booking, such as inclusions, features, dates, duration, etc.
If you’re paying online with your debit or credit card, ensure the site where you go to do this is a secured URL. Look for the padlock symbol or the ‘s’ at the end of the ‘HTTP’ that shows you’re on a secure page of a website. It helps to download decent security software onto your computer or smartphone where you’ll complete any bookings, if you don’t already have it, as this can alert you to potentially dangerous sites and help provide comprehensive identity protection at the same time.
Plus, be wary of depositing money into a foreign bank account directly, as wire transfers and online escrow services can be hard to trace and may be fraudulent. Don’t give out your financial details via email or other unsecured options, either.
Avoid Public Wi-Fi Where Possible
Lastly, whether you’re in the city where you live or traveling, it’s wise to make travel bookings only when utilizing secure, password-protected internet services rather than public Wi-Fi. You don’t know who’s monitoring networks and taking note of your digital activity, plus hackers or other criminals may have set up cameras or other gadgets to take note of keystrokes and the usernames and passwords people type in when they’re online. You can browse okay when on unsecured Wi-Fi but don’t use it when inputting personal and financial details.
Some other tips to help you protect yourself from travel scams are to learn about some of the most common scams fraudsters use, don’t hand over any additional information than is truly required, and back up all your data regularly. Take printouts of booking information with you when you travel, too. Taking all these steps will help you stay safer and minimize headaches before you leave or while you’re away, leaving you to enjoy your trip a lot more.
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