Whether you are trying to get away from the sweltering heat in some parts of the U.S. or actively seeking it out, there are a few things that you must take into consideration. Sunblock is obviously an important item, but you need to protect yourself from hotel scammers as well.
As more people are taking to the open road seeking shelter and some relief, fraudsters eagerly plan their next moves. It happens during every holiday season, as earlier this year, scammers were caught creating fake booking sites.
Many will look at booking a room in a hotel or browse the internet for specials. Under normal circumstances, that would be fine, but cybercriminals know how to trick tourists and out-of-state travelers effectively.
Here’s the backstory
Fake travel agencies or booking sites aren’t the only things that you need to look out for. Cybercriminals will go to great lengths to dupe people into handing over money or personal information.
The Better Business Bureau has once again highlighted the importance of ensuring that the website you are using is legitimate. Scammers are incredibly proficient in creating copy-cat websites, so make sure it’s the real deal. Here are some other tips on how to stay safe when booking your next hotel.
- Spoofed websites
When making online hotel reservations, make certain the website is legitimate. Scammers are famous for creating spoofed sites to lure consumers into providing credit card information.
- Phony food delivery
Be extra cautious when having a look through takeout menus left at the hotel’s front desk. While most of them will be legitimate local businesses, there could be one or two that are not. Fake takeout companies will pretend to take your order, but the food won’t arrive after you have paid.
- Fake calls from the front desk
The Better Business Bureau urges travelers to be aware of late-night calls from the front desk. “The caller asks for credit card information claiming there’s a problem with the credit card on file — they may say it was declined, they need to re-verify payment information or that they lost all of the financial information and need to run an audit by a certain time,” the BBB wrote in a blog post.
- Dangerous Wi-Fi connections
Having a complimentary Wi-Fi connection at your hotel can be a blessing, but make sure you connect to the right SSID. Cybercriminals can set up fake Wi-Fi networks and skim your details when you use them.
“Before joining a network, make sure the Wi-Fi connection is secure and hosted through the hotel. Many secured connections require a two-step verification process,” the BBB explains.
Also, whenever using public Wi-Fi, it’s critical to utilize a VPN. That way, any cybercriminals looking for victims on the network will be blocked. We recommend our sponsor, ExpressVPN.
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- Checkout scams
When checking into a hotel, the front desk always asks to give a form of payment to keep on file, such as a credit or debit card for incidentals. However, at checkout, guests can decide to pay with another method, such as cash.
No matter what payment method is used, get a receipt. This provides a record of all charges during the stay, so if the payment changes from credit to cash, you can dispute any charges to the card on file and have the receipt to prove it.
The best way to prevent being scammed at checkout is to use the form of payment that you put on file when checking in. Consider using a credit card versus a debit card. If your number is compromised, using your debit card provides access to the checking account and a potentially challenging situation in correcting the situation with the bank.
If you encounter a scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker at BBB.org/scamtracker.