It’s the time of year for the family vacation and scammers have also packed their bag of tricks to take advantage of travelers while their defenses are down.
After a day at the beach, amusement park or pool and dinner at one of the local restaurants, the family settles in for the night in their hotel room when the phone rings. The caller states that it’s the front desk and there is a problem with the credit card used to secure the room. The target reaches into his or her wallet or purse and verifies the credit card information before going back to sleep.
The problem with this scenario is that the front desk would not call late at night, nor would they verify information over the phone. The call is actually a scam that works surprisingly well by catching the target completely off guard. Solution: Never give personal or credit card information over the telephone. Hang up, call the front desk and verify that the call was placed by them.
Dinner time? Restaurant and pizza fliers are also a great way to scam folk not familiar with the area they are visiting. By slipping fliers under the doors at hotels, chances are someone will take the bait and call to place an order. The target calls in, orders a meal and freely gives credit card information to the “restaurant.” When the order doesn’t arrive, the realization hits that the flier was not legitimate. Solution: Always verify the legitimacy of the business named in the flier by contacting the front desk or by verifying the business and telephone number online.
While we are on the subject of “online,” this presents yet another opportunity for scammers. Whether traveling for business or pleasure, it is likely the computer will be accessed during time away to check email or even make plans in the city visited. While trying to connect to a wi-fi network it is wise to verify the name of the network utilized by the hotel, coffee house or restaurant visited. Bogus networks allow scammers to access personal information on the user’s computer. Solution: Be informed about the risks presented by using public wi-fi networks.
For more information on popular vacation scams, visit www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0046-travel-tips.