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8 Scam Threats Targeting Holidaymakers


8 Scam Threats Targeting Holidaymakers

Travel scams are one of the biggest ways cybercriminals make money. Experts believe that with the rising cost of living, bargain-hunting holidaymakers will be even more susceptible to such scams.

Digital security company ESET shared its warnings about frauds you may encounter on the internet.

8 common threats that prey on travelers

According to ABTA, the trade association for UK travel agents, the most common types of holiday booking scams include accommodation, flights, sports and religious trips, and timeshares and holiday clubs. Scammers offer cheaper deals by setting up fake websites, posting fake ads on websites and social media, and sometimes using illegally obtained rewards or stolen vouchers to make payment. Here are some of the most common types of scams and other threats to watch out for:

1- Free holidays

Victims are contacted via unsolicited emails, calls or messages claiming to have won a holiday through a raffle they never entered. If the scammers can get a response, they will ask them to pay only the tax or part of the cost of the holiday in order to qualify for their ‘free’ holiday. Of course, there is no reward and the scammers pocket the money.

2- Clone sites

Phishing emails, texts and calls and/or online advertisements may also direct victims to visit fake airline, holiday or comparison sites designed to imitate legitimate ones. Victims are sent fake confirmation emails or booking references, meaning many only realize they have been scammed when they arrive at the check-in desk.

3- Discounted tickets or holidays

Cybercriminals sometimes offer deeply discounted deals on holidays, flights, hotels and other packages. In this case, the tickets may be legal but discounted because they were purchased with stolen cards or compromised loyalty accounts. They can be advertised through social media, spam emails, and even robocalls. Victims risk having their holiday cut short if the fraud is discovered.

4- ‘Help’ with international travel documents

Some sites claim to help victims easily obtain a travel visa, passport, international driving permit or other documents. They charge extremely high fees for these services, which are usually free. There is a high probability that the resulting document is fake.

5- Fake rental houses

The trade of summer houses rented online is increasing. Scammers often add their own ads to legitimate rental or classifieds sites. These properties either do not exist, are not for rent, or will have been rented twice by the time you visit. Book your rental house through special reputable sites that protect against fake listings.

6- Flight fraud

Scammers also use private jet charter packages, which often come with accommodation, to lure victims. Again, they will take the money and disappear, leaving you hanging.

7- Wi-Fi threats

If you’re at the airport, coffee shop, or other public space while on the road, don’t log into your bank or other accounts using free public Wi-Fi. At the very least, use a reputable virtual private network (VPN) service that encrypts your connection and protects you from people who might want to steal your personal data. You should avoid free Wi-Fi because you may be unknowingly connecting to a fake access point set up by cybercriminals who want to listen in on your web session to steal your passwords and personal and financial data. Even if the Wi-Fi spot is real, hackers may be lurking on the same network to spy on your online activity.

8- Juice jacking

Travelers should also be wary of USB charging threats, also known as “juice jacking.” Here, criminals often install malware on public charging stations or cables left plugged in at stations. Yes, you read it correctly, “cables”. Using these cables results in the installation of malware designed to hijack the device and/or steal data and passwords.

How to stay safe during the holiday season?

There are many things you can do to avoid the above scenarios:

  • Do your research, check travel companies, hotels, rental companies and travel agencies online to see if others are being scammed.
  • Never respond to unsolicited communications. If you have seen an ad and are curious, contact the organization directly and never use contact information from an email, text, or ad.
  • Do not pay with money orders, gift cards, cryptocurrency, or money apps like Cash App, as these provide no protection for the recipient.
  • Check the URL of any site you visit to make sure there are no typos that indicate a fake site.
  • Be careful. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
  • Don’t be fooled by dark websites offering deeply discounted holidays and tickets.
  • Do not use public Wi-Fi without a virtual private network (VPN) and avoid using public charging stations outside.

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