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6 Ways To Protect Yourself From Common Online Travel Scams This Year

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Nowadays, when it comes to booking our travels, it's mostly done online. Ironically, the times we are most likely to carry cash are while we’re traveling.

Whether it's an Airbnb, an all-inclusive resort, or airfare that seems to keep going up, most likely, we are browsing online to make our final purchase.

traveler with credit card

In fact, one of the global leaders in online protection, McAfee, recently reported 94% of travelers book their itineraries online.

Unfortunately, we live in a world both physically and digitally with a lot of bad apples. People and companies can’t always be trusted.

Sure, there are the main players, such as hotels.com and Priceline. In all likelihood, it’s completely safe to go with the big names in the travel industry.

But when it comes to relatively unknown third-party sites, things can become a bit sketchy. That’s not the only type of scenario to keep an eye on, however. There are many types of scams affecting travelers.

generic hotel website

McAfee also reported 1 of every 3 people who take a trip have been scammed, often losing $1000 or more!

What Do Online Travel Scams Look Like?

Online travel scams can look quite different from one another. McAfee reported 18% of adults have had their identity stolen, and 14% have made payments through insecure websites.

This includes a small percentage of people who enter personal information, such as IDs, onto these unsafe platforms.

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woman with passport and laptop

Even the FBI and FCC have recently warned against the use of public phone chargers at common places, such as airports, due to “juice jacking”.

There is an abundance of scams to be aware of, but there are also many ways to combat becoming a victim.

Here are 6 ways to protect yourself from common online travel scams this year:

Don’t Click ‘Checkout’ Just Yet

Say you go to a well-known website to book your hotel. You fill out all your information and are ready to pay for your dream vacation.

phishing email

Before clicking ‘Checkout’, ask yourself how you reached this point. Did you click a link from an unsolicited email?  Or did you enter the website yourself? 

Phishing is a common tactic to get internet users to click a link that looks like something familiar, only to trick the user into entering personal information to steal.

Use Secure Wi-fi

In the new age of working from home or becoming a digital nomad, sometimes we may find ourselves working from a cafe, for example.

using wifi at a cafe

The problem with that is the wi-fi connection may not be secure. Therefore, personal details can easily be taken and cause a headache.

Use A Virtual Private Network (VPN)

It’s always smart to use a VPN. These are very affordable and sometimes cost less than the cup of coffee you may be drinking at a cafe with insecure Wi-Fi.

The purpose of a VPN is to change your digital address to another location, making your personal information far more difficult to obtain, especially for online banking and shopping.

Make Sure Your Vacation Rental Is Real

There can be a lot of misleading information when booking a vacation rental. When possible, travelers should validate the property owner’s name with public records.

traveler entering vacation rental

Guests can also do a simple search of the property to make sure it fits in geographically in the region, like Google Street View. Public records may confirm the address is legit too.

Stick To The Script

Any legit company listing vacation rentals would never allow cash or gift cards to be used as the main source of payment. Save those for gratuity!

handing over cash

Make sure you are on the actual website (not a phishing link) and use a secure form of payment rather than wire transfers or prepaid gift cards.

Purchase A Privacy Protection Plan

As great as the internet can be, having an extra pair of eyes is always a good plan to remain safe from being scammed.

There are many security solutions online that monitor the web for your personal information, especially for identity theft.

At a reasonably low cost, travelers can have peace of mind knowing their data and personal information are safeguarded.

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.