Summer vacation season can lead to an increase in travel scams. You may see more travel ads and discounted trips while browsing social media or scrolling through your inbox. However, not all these offers are legitimate. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Americans have submitted over 43,000 reports of travel scams and fraud to the Federal Trade Commission, losing upwards of $78 million and counting.
Scammers are ramping up their activity to take advantage of people booking vacations and those hunting for last-minute travel deals. This summer has been particularly fertile ground for criminals thanks to an increase in travelers as COVID-19 travel restrictions lessened. They are targeting your booking deposits and attempting to gain access to your personal information and financial accounts to commit further fraud.
Let’s review how you and your family can avoid becoming the next victim of vacation travel scams — both online and offline.
Preparing for your vacation should be as stress-free as your upcoming time away. Travel scams can easily extend beyond the planned trip, impacting your financial and personal information and compromising your identity.
Consider the following red flags of travel scams:
Nearly 1 in 3 Americans say they’ve fallen victim to a phone scam in the past year, according to research from TrueCaller. One particular caller could claim that you are a winner of an all-inclusive vacation. As exciting as the offer sounds, the fraudster orchestrating this travel scam is after your identity or your money in return for a nonexistent reservation. They will ask for personal information to book the reservation and your credit card information for a deposit fee.
Registering for the FTC National Do Not Call Registry or using a call blocker app can help reduce the number of unwanted scams and robocalls you receive, but it’s not foolproof. Caller ID Spoofing — where the caller presents false information on your caller ID to get you to answer the phone — is increasing as fraudsters look for ways to bypass the call blockers. Protect yourself from phone scams by never divulging personal or financial information over the phone unless you are the one who has initiated the call to a trusted merchant or a known travel agent.
Researching your vacation destination and hotels can reduce the opportunity for criminals to sabotage your summer plans. Keep the following information in mind when planning your hotel stay:
By using caution and front-loading your research, you can avoid the hassle of having to find last-minute vacation plans and enjoy some rest and relaxation.