Protect Yourself from Summertime Vacation Scams
As families, students and friends gear up for summer travel, Better Business Bureau warns of the following scams and travel headaches that could potentially plague consumers this summer:
Criminals hacking Internet connections in hotels
- The FBI recently issued a warning
about scam artists who use Internet connections in hotels to gain access to consumers' personal information using pop-up windows that appear as “software updates” on their computer screens.
BBB Tip: Avoid clicking on pop-up windows and suspicious advertisements. Perform operating system and software updates before traveling, and only download updates directly from vendors’ websites.
Scam artists posing as a distressed family member or friend – Con artists pose as vacationing friends or family members asking for money to be wired to help them get out of a jam. This scam can come in the form of an email, phone call or social network message.
BBB Tip: Avoid wiring money. Attempt to contact the friend or family member directly. If needed, call other family members or friends to verify the story.
High-pressured travel club and sales pitches - Complaints to BBB show that many travel clubs promise huge discounts on hotels, airfare and cruises, but fail to fully deliver, despite the high cost of joining. In addition, complaints allege consumers felt misled and pressured into making an on-the-spot decision.
BBB Tip: Before signing-up with a travel club, vacationers should do their research and check a company’s BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org.
Sneaky cell phone data charges - When traveling abroad, some consumers don’t realize their cell phone data plan doesn’t cover the area they’re traveling in. Even though those travelers may not be using their phone, roaming charges may still apply.
Some complaints to BBB allege consumers were unaware that their cell data service was still operating while they traveled outside of their coverage area.
BBB Tip: Before traveling abroad or anywhere outside of your coverage area, contact your service provider for specific details regarding your individual data and roaming plan and make appropriate changes prior to your departure. In your smart phone settings, ensure roaming, data and call features are disabled.
The dark side of social media updates - One of the biggest mistakes travelers can make is to alert the world to the fact they are not in town by updating or posting their departure and return dates on social media sites. Updates and tagged posts on sites like Facebook and FourSquare can alert criminals to your exact location, leaving your home and personal belongings vulnerable.
BBB Tip: It’s best to keep your travel plans offline until you return from your vacation. If you must update, review your privacy settings before you leave. Change settings so that posts don’t identify where you are. Avoid being too specific with your vacation updates.