1. Beware of fake travel sitesWe’re all looking for the lowest fares and great hotel rates when we travel, but beware of “act now” offers on obscure websites. If you visit the website of a travel agency or airline you’ve never heard of, it may be a fake site created by a fraudster to get you to book a non-existent trip and then capture your personal financial information. Be cautious. Do your research and check their online reviews. If they have none, there’s a good chance the site is fake.
2. Don’t fall for “free trip” robocalls or phony offers in an emailYou just got an email or automated call that said you won a free trip, a free timeshare in Florida, or some great deal on a family vacation to London. If the offer seems too good to be true, it’s probably not legitimate. If you feel like there’s a slight chance it’s real, do some research on the company offering it. If your great offer comes in the form of an email, it might be a case of “phishing.” (Phishing is when you’ll be asked to reveal personal information via email such as a credit card or bank account number).
3. Don’t use public Wifi for financial transactionsFree Wifi in the airport, on the train, or at the hotel is a great perk on your trip, but that doesn’t mean you should use it to do your online banking or shopping. Be careful when logging into public Wifi -- especially, if it’s not secure or has a general password. The most common practice hackers use to get your personal and financial account information is called “sniffing,” which allows them to hijack data that is being transmitted between a device and an unsecure router.
4. Protect your passportWhen traveling, your passport should be on you at all times. When you are in the airport, don’t lose sight of it. Keep it tucked away out of plain sight. Don’t leave it unattended when you are at the boarding gate or ticket counter. If you need to leave it at the hotel, ask a concierge if you can lock it in the hotel’s safe, not your room’s safe.
5. Watch out for debit card skimming at the pumpCard skimming by fake card readers at gas stations is a huge business for scammers. A fraudster’s reader device captures the details stored in your card's magnetic stripe, which includes your account info. Before you fill up at the pump, use common sense. Is the station in a well-lit area? Is the pump in plain view of the clerk? If the card reader on the pump appears loose, has moving parts that seem to be hastily attached, or protrudes past the panel, it may be a sign that it’s been tampered with. It might be better to pay inside, if you’re concerned about being scammed.
6. Password-protect your phoneImagine if your phone got stolen during your travels and someone got access to all your apps and personal information? Password protect your phone. Even if a sophisticated criminal tries to unlock your phone if it falls into their hands, make it harder for them. In addition to password protecting your phone, it might be a good idea to make sure all your apps require an additional password to log into them once you unlock your phone, if they don’t already.
Don’t let the fear of fraud get you down this summer. Just taking a few simple precautions will help you find peace of mind wherever you go.