Warmer weather and longer days can easily turn your thoughts to vacation and travel, but you’re not the only one thinking in that direction. For every would-be traveler sitting down to make some plans, there are scammers making plans of their own, plans to get your money, your personal data, or both.
Travel scams can take on many forms, and they can strike at any point along your journey, from before you leave home until well after you return.
Before Your Trip
While planning a trip, you might encounter online booking scams, popup ads for “amazing” deals that install viruses on your computer, or bait-and-switch scams that offer you incredible deals on stunning accommodations that don’t even exist.
While You’re Away
During your trip, you have to be mindful of a wide variety of scams and frauds. It might be the stranger in need who steals your money, a local official scheme that extorts money from you for supposedly breaking the law, hackers who steal your information when you connect to hotel or public wifi, or any number of other methods of attack.
After Your Vacation
Once you return to the safety of your own home, you’re still not out of the woods when it comes to a travel scam. You may find out the hard way that someone copied your credit card while you were away—something that can happen quite easily in a restaurant or hotel—and is now using it widely. You might receive phone calls or emails informing you that you ran up extra charges and are expected to pay them (charges you didn’t actually make, but how will you prove it now?). It could even be an unscrupulous property owner who now claims outrageous damages to the rental property where you stayed.
The only way to protect yourself from these scams and many others just like them is to know what kinds of schemes are out there and to know your rights. Staying informed can help you spot the red flags that indicate something isn’t right, as well as head off known tricks of the scammers’ trade. Knowing your rights, such as what types of charges (if any) you’re responsible for on your credit card if someone uses it fraudulently, can help you respond proactively if someone steals from you.
Of course, nothing will replace being smart about your accounts and your personal identifiable information; monitoring your online accounts regularly and knowing what types of information you’re sharing will help you safeguard yourself.
If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, 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.