Common Travel Scams & How to Avoid Them

As spring break approaches, families across the country are gearing up for travel, embracing the opportunity to create memories and explore new destinations. However, the excitement of travel also brings vulnerability to scams, particularly as scammers evolve their techniques to target tourists.

Awareness and preparation can be your best defenses against these scams. Here, we outline some of the most common travel-related scams and offer advice on how to avoid them, ensuring your vacation is memorable for all the right reasons.

WiFi Eavesdropping

What it is: Public WiFi networks, often found in airports, hotels, and cafes, are a boon for travelers seeking internet access. However, they are also hotspots for eavesdropping by cybercriminals who can intercept data transferred over these networks, including passwords and credit card information.

How to Avoid: Always use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when connecting to public WiFi. A VPN encrypts your internet connection, making it difficult for hackers to snoop on your data. Additionally, avoid accessing sensitive accounts or making financial transactions on public WiFi.

Hacking of Travel Booking Sites

What it is: Cybercriminals often target travel booking websites to steal personal and financial information. This can include hacking into the websites directly or creating fraudulent sites that mimic legitimate ones.

How to Avoid: Make sure the website is legitimate before making any bookings by checking for a padlock symbol in the address bar and verifying the website’s URL. Use reputable travel booking sites and consider booking directly through official airline or hotel websites.

New Travel Agent Scams

What it is: With the resurgence of travel agents, new scams have emerged where fraudsters pose as agents offering too-good-to-be-true deals, often requiring upfront payments.

How to Avoid: Verify the legitimacy of any travel agent by checking their credentials and looking for reviews from other travelers. Be wary of deals that require immediate payment, especially if payment is requested via wire transfer or gift cards.

Loyalty Points & Air Miles Scams

What it is: Scammers target loyalty programs, aiming to steal points or air miles by hacking into accounts or tricking members into revealing their login details through phishing scams.

How to Avoid: Protect your loyalty accounts with strong, unique passwords, and be cautious of emails or messages requesting account information. Regularly check your account statements for any unauthorized transactions or redemptions.

Social Engineering

What it is: Social engineering involves scammers using psychological manipulation to trick individuals into divulging personal information or making financial transactions. Travelers might be approached with seemingly innocent questions or offers that are actually attempts to scam.

How to Avoid: Be cautious when sharing personal information with strangers. If approached with offers or requests for help that seem suspicious, it’s okay to decline and walk away. Always verify the identity of anyone asking for personal details or money.

Juice Jacking

What it is: Juice jacking occurs when charging stations in public places, like airports or hotels, are compromised with malware. When travelers plug their devices into these stations, the malware can infect the device to steal personal information.

How to Avoid: Avoid using public USB charging stations. Instead, use an AC power outlet or carry a portable power bank. If you must use a public USB port, consider using a USB data blocker, which allows charging without data exchange.

Travel offers a chance to break away from the every day, but it also exposes travelers to potential scams. Always prioritize the security of your personal and financial information; when something seems too good to be true, it often is. You can enjoy a safe and scam-free Spring Break vacation with the right precautions.