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Data Security and Privacy

How to Avoid Travel Scams This Holiday Season

By December 22, 2022March 30th, 2024No Comments

With flights, rental cars and lodging prices increasing, people will be looking for the best deals this holiday season, You may get a call, a text message or a flyer in the mail. Or maybe you may see an ad while scrolling online promising “free” or low-cost vacations.  Everything is not always as great as it seems.  You may end up having to pay hidden fees or it may all be a scam!  Learn how to avoid travel scams this holiday season.

How to Avoid Travel Scams  This Holiday Season

Here are three of the most common types of scams and some quick tips on how to avoid them.

1. Websites that are Fake

Fake websites are some of the most expensive scams we see today, and they’re more common than you might think. In fact, since the beginning of the pandemic, the CAFC has seen an increase in online scams being reported.

Some of these websites are created to mimic real property, and others promote properties that simply don’t exist. But websites that are fake aren’t only rife in accommodation; they also exist to sell fake tours, rental vehicles and even flights.

Tip: Judge a website’s authenticity.  Does the URL begin with “https”? Is the padlock symbol in the browser? 

2. Third-party issues

Booking through third-party websites can quickly become upsetting if you’re not paying close attention. For example, when a family from the US booked a Toronto apartment on a third-party website, they arrived to find the private building was locked up and the phone disconnected.

They eventually realized they’d fallen victim to a fake hotel listing and needed to find alternative accommodation.

Tip: Booking directly with the accommodation is often the safest way to make sure you’re dealing with the right people. If you book through a third party and have any doubts about its authenticity, call the accommodation directly and confirm your reservation before you leave.

3. Hidden costs

How many times have you reached the checkout of an online store only to find more fees and confusing charges added to your order? It could be taxing, online handling fees charges to send your booking confirmation or extra costs to pay by credit card, these hidden fees can quickly become expensive.

Tip: Always check to see if some of these charges are optional, like sending a physical copy of your booking confirmation. If they seem like a lot, unusual or irrelevant, ask for an explanation or take your business elsewhere.

5. Too many ads

Booking companies have their fair share of promotional content on their sites due to online ads being everywhere. However, if you have to dig through numerous pop-up ads for strange products and questionable services, take your business elsewhere.

3. Customer reviews

Whether it’s a night out at a new hotel or dinner at a restaurant, it’s always a good idea to read customer reviews before booking. Scammers know the power of online reviews and use these to their advantage by creating user profiles that are fake and leaving positive feedback on their pages.

Dive deep into the user’s profile if you’re suspicious about the authenticity of the reviews they’re writing. If they’ve only left one review and have an incomplete profile, they might be a fake account.

What to do if you’re scammed

After being scammed you might be frustrated and upset, it’s important to stay calm and limit the damage the hackers can do with your information.

If you believe you’ve fallen victim to an online booking scam follow these steps:

  • Call your bank and place a temporary freeze on the affected account while you verify the threat.
  • Reset your online passwords.  Include your social media, email, financial institutions and service providers.
  • Contact a government service if you believe your identity is under threat.

You may confidently take advantage of all the tremendous opportunities of travel technology if you exercise caution on how to avoid travel scams.

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