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Taking a little extra time before you book can help you avoid disappointment, keep your personal and payment details safe and ensure your hard-earned dollars are not lost to fraudsters.

The excitement of planning a vacation fills many travellers with joy as they picture themselves wandering through a charming European city or shopping in a U.S. destination like New York City or Miami. Finding the best travel deal online is certainly part of the planning process, but this may lead some future travellers to let their guard down and become victims of vacation fraud scams.

These 5 tips can help you identify and protect yourself from vacation travel fraud and scams.

If it seems too good to be true, it most likely is.

Everyone wants the satisfaction of getting a good deal; however, travel package deals that initially appear cheap compared to similar packages may be a warning sign.

  • Be wary of requirements to make a “down payment” for a reservation without being provided with the travel package details.
  • Watch for payment scams plans for the vacation of a lifetime billed as “travel now, pay later” that request credit card information in advance. Your credit card information can then be used for fraudulent purposes.
  • Be sure to research the company or merchant before committing and submitting payment.

Watch for fraudulent websites impersonating reputable brands

Spoofing is when fraudsters create fake websites to capture your personal and payment information. These sites are designed to mimic the website of a reputable brand hotel, airline or car rental company. They are often infected with malware that will capture and copy your personal information entered on the website. Leading anti-virus software programs can often detect such fraudulent websites, so consider investing in one and remember to keep it up-to-date. Practice vigilant website surfing habits by learning to identify inconsistent, non-secure website addresses. Fake sites may also have spelling mistakes in the URL and on the page and could include graphics that seem recreated or copied. Secure websites will often begin with “https” and have a lock icon in the address window.

Use caution when clicking on links

Malware is often hidden in attachments or downloaded via hyperlinks sent in fraudulent e-mails or texts. Avoid opening any email attachments and clicking on links from unknown sources. Some forms of malware are designed to capture and share your online browsing history with a fraudster. Armed with this information, fraudsters are then able to target you with phishing emails according to your shopping or surfing habits.

Learn more about phishing and how to identify it.

Make sure your social media and app privacy settings are activated

While social media is great for sharing news and experiences with family and friends, this information is often exploited by fraudsters for social engineering purposes.

Photos of your previous vacations on your social media accounts can be exploited by fraudsters to design a perfect vacation package that appeals to you. Social engineering tactics include preying on your emotions and sentimental values to get you to share your personal and banking/credit card details.

You can read more about social engineering here.

Your privacy settings on apps and social media allow you to control who can view your information and how much information is accessible. You’ll likely encounter many exciting ideas and options when planning your dream vacation that fills you with anticipation.

The Bottom Line

Taking a little extra time to research and double-check the details before you book will help to mitigate disappointment, keep your personal and payment details safe and ensure your hard-earned dollars are not lost to fraudsters. Happy travels!