Smart Travel Tips to Protect You When You Vacation

Photo: Dell640 Depositphotos

Photo: Dell640 Depositphotos

By Justin Lavelle

Making travel plans for late summer and this fall? Have you booked your trip yet?

There’s actually someone who’s more excited about your trip than you are and that’s the scammers hoping to rake in millions from unsuspecting travelers.This time of year travel scams surge targeting everyone of all ages, but especially seniors.

Here are a few smart travel tips to protect you, your family and friends as you make your plans.

Travel Tip #1: Do Not Post Your Trip on Social Media

Telling people when you’re going away and where you’re going is advertising your absence and leaves you, your friends and family open to scams (and your home open to theft).

One such scam that occurs often comes in the form of an email from your account that has been hacked and sent to a friend or relative. The email tells a terrible tale of either being mugged or somehow losing all your money while on vacation. The result is always a need for money to be wired.

Since the email is coming from someone they know, people will sometimes believe it.

Remind your friends and family to never wire money without talking to you or someone you’re traveling with first.

Travel Tip #2: Avoid the Vacation Rental Scam

One of the biggest scams today is a form of online scam that targets travelers booking hotels and vacation homes.

Renters are enticed by an incredible deal and book it online with a payment wire. When they arrive to their destination, the hotel or rental home exists, but the rental itself didn’t book the reservation and have no room waiting for you.

Do some online research before booking or use a background checking service. You can search the individual or company’s name (and physical address) to get a sense of whether or not the company is real and if the name matches the property.

Always pay with a credit card that has a fraud prevention guarantee, book through well known travel websites and companies, and call the properties directly to confirm that they do offer rentals and have availability when you are looking to book.

Travel Tip #3: Beware of High Pressure Travel Club Companies

Time share style companies have been around forever. However, some of today’s travel club companies employ unscrupulous tactics and high pressure sales to entice consumers into purchasing their vacation club memberships.

Consumers believe they are getting something for free by attending travel club sales presentations and then are under the belief they are joining the vacation club at a reduced price after high pressure tactics.They soon find out they are not getting a good deal and could have purchased the same vacation for less elsewhere.

In general, vacation clubs are a common source of travel complaints so it’s best to not agree to the presentation in the first place.

Travel Tip #4: Steer Clear of Shared WiFi if Possible

Most people understand the dangers of using an open public WiFi hotspot. Did you also know you also have to watch out for protected networks at hotels and other venues that require a password?

Anytime you use a shared WiFi network in any public spot, it’s easy for someone to intercept your data and monitor what you’re doing. They know what sites you’re visiting, your account passwords, emails, and more.

Travel Tip #5: If a Deal Sounds too Good to Be True, It Probably Is

If a deal sounds incredibly cheap, there’s a strong likelihood it’s a scam. Companies aren’t about to give you an 80% discount on your travel and stay.

Protect yourself from scams by always using a credit card with fraud protection, always get everything in writing, play it safe by booking direct with a company (whether it’s United Airlines or a resort in Mexico) and do your research on a site like Trip Advisor.

Before you get wrapped up in the idea of a relaxing getaway, do your homework and proceed with caution to protect yourself and your family.

You can also use a site like BeenVerified for their property search feature that is perfect for verifying homeowner information and avoiding the many scams that proliferate on Craig’s List and other sites that specialize in vacation rentals. You can also use it in conjunction with a people search when transacting on Airbnb.

Justin Lavelle is a scam prevention expert and the communications director for BeenVerified is a source of online background checks and contact information.
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