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5 online travel scams that are spreading now

Summer should be a time for relaxation and wild adventures. The last thing you need to worry about is being tricked out of your hard-earned cash during travel season.

Unfortunately, criminals are looking to take advantage of vacationers to make a quick buck. You don’t have to travel in fear, though, as there are several things that you can do to stay safe and protect your information. Tap or click here for insider tech travel hacks you’ll use every single trip.

Being forewarned about current dangers is a great place to start. Read on for details on five online travel scams that are spreading fast.

1. Too good to be true

Looking for a last-minute deal or a better offer on your current rate? You might be tempted to click the “buy” button on a website that you’re not familiar with. That could be a huge mistake. Cybercriminals have been known to set up fake travel websites to capture your personal details and banking information.

You might not immediately be able to tell that it’s fake, but there are some ways to find out quickly. The most important thing is making sure that the website is secure, denoted by a lock icon in the address bar. The URL will be HTTPS://, with the ‘S’ standing for secure.

There is a browser extension available that will turn any insecure website into a secure one. This will help to protect your browsing session from hijacking, online surveillance or other malicious elements.

Where possible, make payments through channels that provide protection if something goes wrong. A credit card is a good option. Others like Apple Pay or PayPal are excellent too. These allow you to dispute, stop or claim a refund if the site turns out to be fraudulent.

2. Fake travel sites

You think you’re scoring a few dollars off, but you could lose everything if the website is fake. Paying 10% less is never worth that price, so it’s best to play it safe and stick to the trusted business or travel companies like Expedia and Travelocity.

Research travel websites or companies that you aren’t familiar with. One good way to know if a business is legit is by checking with the Better Business Bureau. You can do a quick search for any business on the BBB site here.

In the same spirit, be aware of any travel-related emails that you receive. It might have bypassed the spam filter and contain malicious links or attachments, like travel deals or last-minute offers.

Never click on links or open attachments in unsolicited emails. And never reply to spam emails. In most cases, when you open a spam email, the cybercriminals behind it will be able to see that your account is active. This will only lead to more spam.

Get Kim’s take in the following video:

3. COVID-19 information portals and government websites

Criminals have been using the ongoing pandemic as a lure for scams from the start. Several fake websites have been created to steal your details especially targeting those looking for official guidance or government information. COVID scams aren’t going away – Watch out for these.

When looking for COVID information, ensure that you are on the right web page and official. The URL for government websites will end in .gov, and if you see anything else, it is possibly a fake site. Looking for info on the Delta variant? Tap or click here for a map that tracks it.

Remember, no government site will ask for payment in the form of gift cards or wire transfers.

4. Gas station card skimmers

Card skimming has become a real problem over the last few months, as more people are heading outside their homes. Criminals attach the small devices to pay points at places like gas stations to steal your debit or credit card details.

You’ll never know that your card has been skimmed until it is too late. There are several ways for you to make sure a pay point hasn’t been tampered with.

When pumping gas, try to use the pay point with the highest foot traffic. The chances that a criminal managed to attach a skimmer on it should be slim. Also, feel around the swipe area to see if there is anything loose or attached. If it’s excessively loose or damaged, walk away.

We recently covered more physical signs that can help you detect card skimmers. When you know what to look for, you’re harder to fool.

5. Stranger danger

Staying over in a stranger’s house seems like a crazy thing to do. But yet, the concept has been commercialized to the point where some travelers prefer it over hotels.

It can be a more affordable option in a neighborhood you like, but there are some dangers to look out for. When using Airbnb to book a stay, don’t fall for an apartment owner’s request to complete the booking on a third-party website. Once you leave the Airbnb ecosystem, you will have no recourse if something goes wrong.

You should only book, communicate and pay through the Airbnb website or the Airbnb app to ensure you aren’t being scammed. And as with all websites that you visit, make sure that you are on the real Airbnb website and not a dangerous clone.

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