This Thanksgiving, there are a lot of important guidelines that consumers should follow for travel safety. You need to arm yourself with the right tools to protect your identity, your financial information, and your holiday spirit this season.
Each year, Thanksgiving—even more than other holidays like Christmas or spring break—has the highest volume of travel traffic. That means crowded airports, last minute flights, and the hunt for hotel accommodations. It can also mean travel scams, fraud, and identity theft if you’re not careful.
Here are a few tips to help keep your information safe and your sense of cheer intact as you travel this holiday season:
1. Online booking – Industry watchers aren’t the only ones who know that more US travelers venture out for turkey day than any other day of the year. Scammers know it, too. If you’re planning on booking air travel, cruises, rental cars, or accommodations online, make sure you’re only using reputable websites. Use a payment method that offers consumer protection just in case, and investigate whether or not you need travel insurance.
2. Last minute specials – Yes, if you do your homework or if your dates are a little flexible, you can find some incredible deals on your travel. You may even find some great last-minute rates on tickets or rooms that haven’t sold. However, you’re just as likely to find some fake websites, harmful links, phony accommodations, and more. Avoid the sense of urgency that scammers often embed in their tactics; if you’re told to “act now” or told there are only “three rooms left!” then you might want to walk away.
3. Know your website – Even if you’re trying to book your trip through a reputable site, you might be the victim of a copycat scam. Everything about the email, social media post, or even the website itself looked legitimate, with the company logo and the right color scheme. But check the web address in the bar at the top of the screen. If you don’t see HTTPS (instead of just HTTP), then you shouldn’t enter any sensitive information. Also, look for characters that could be inserted to trick you, as a zero instead of a letter O or a lowercase L instead if an uppercase I. Those little details can mean you’re on a fake website that will steal your information—and not put you on a plane!
4. Oversharing the event – While you’re away, make sure that you’re not oversharing your personal details on social media. Posting pictures and tagging them with the location could be an indication that your home and mailbox are standing empty. Sharing pictures of other family members and their kids might be a no-no, so make sure you know everyone’s comfort level before you post and label.
Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.