Airports make the perfect target locations for scammers. They're crowded, and travelers are often carrying valuable possessions in their luggage.
Plus, travelers are distracted by the hustle and bustle that's taking place around them. They're looking for their flight information, looking for the right gate, or even taking a quick nap before they catch their flight.
Unless you're paying close attention, it's easy for scammers to catch you off guard. So, before you head to the airport for your next trip, keep reading for three major airport scams you need to watch out for.
1. Rigged baggage scales
Finding the best flight for your trip is hard work. On top of that, airports can be stressful.
First stop? The ticketing counter. Here, you get your tickets and check your bags, which could be the most frustrating part.
Airlines charge an arm and a leg in baggage fees. Checked bags range between $20 to $50 dollars and there's usually an additional average of $25 for overweight bags, and could go up to $100 in fees if your bag is that heavy (up to 100 pounds).
Those aren't easy fees to sneer at, so if your bags are over by a pound or two, the shuffle begins. Your daughter's hoodie gets transferred to your own suitcase, and your son's luggage now holds two extra pairs of shoes. But what if the problem was with the airport's scales and not your bags?
Scales age just like any other piece of technology. If not properly maintained or cared for, a scale could easily malfunction, lose accuracy and add or subtract weight as it pleases.
It's not a new problem, local media in Phoenix reported on the problem back in 2011, but with summer travel season here and in full swing, a friendly reminder couldn't hurt.
What to do?
- When you arrive at the ticketing booth, make sure that the scale reads 0 before you put your luggage on it.
- If you are over and are still worried about the scale, demand that it is weighed on another one of the scales, which have also been zeroed out.
2. Security screen-and-snatch scam
Everyone is talking about those long security checkpoint lines in airports across the country. But, the TSA might not be the only reason lines are held up. Some scammers actually use these check point lines to take off with your belongings.
This scam requires more than one person to be in on the gig. It works like this: One of the scammers positions themselves in front of you in line. One of the scammers clears through the security check with no problems, while the other deliberately sets off the metal detectors to hold up the line.
While you wait for your chance to go through the metal detectors yourself, your bags emerge from the X-ray scanner, and are picked up by the scammer waiting on the other side of the check point.
What to do?
Avoid this scam by holding on to your bin for as long as possible, and keep a watchful eye out for your things on the other side of the X-ray scanner. That way, you can notify security if anyone tries to run off with your carry-on bag, laptop or other valuables.
3. Free Wi-Fi scam
While waiting for your flight, it's tempting to use the public Wi-Fi to check your email or bank account, or even post a status update on Facebook - but you shouldn't.
The same rule applies whenever you're at your favorite coffee shop, bookstore or anywhere free Wi-Fi is offered, because you really don't know who might be spying on your online activity.
Using simple software and tools, someone sitting nearby can track what you're doing. Depending on what you're viewing online, this could give someone else access to the login information for your various accounts, including your passwords.
It could also give them access to personal information, such as your social security number, address, date of birth, etc. Click here to discover three ways crooks can attack you using public Wi-Fi.
What to do?
The safest route is to not use public Wi-Fi for any browsing activities, no matter how small they might seem. Although it does use data from your monthly allowance, if you need to use your smartphone or tablet at the airport, it's best to connect through 4G or LTE.
You can take things even further by putting your phone into Airplane Mode even before you've reached the airport. But, if you must browse using a free public Wi-Fi network, we recommend that you use a VPN to encrypt your data.
Here are three VPNs to check out. Click the links below for more information.