Stay Safe as you Travel

By: HomeFirst Certified
July 04, 2013

The Internet has revolutionized the way you book vacations. Unfortunately, it is also enabling scammers to prey upon your desire to have a perfect vacation. Stay vigilant and check everything before spending any money on airline tickets or accommodations.

 
Scammers usually try to do one of the following:
1. Steal money, by making you pay for impressively cheap tickets or luxury villas that doesn’t exist or won’t be booked for you
2. Steal frequent flyer miles
3. Install a Trojan on your computer to steal banking information and other kinds of valuable data
 
Follow these tips to stay safe while making vacation plans:
• Stick to popular and well-known websites. Don’t visit them using any links inside e-mails or advertising banners. Type the URL in the address bar of your browser – this helps to avoid clones.
• If you’re tempted with an offer from an unknown company, perform some research online. Google the company’s name, visit your country’s tourism authority and check that contact details are fully accessible, including a physical address.
• Carefully read the terms and conditions to be fully aware of protocol.
• Use protected payment, if available – a credit card, a payment card with traveler’s insurance and so on.
• Don’t make a direct payment to property owners, especially through a bank transfer. Use reputable travel agents for apartment/villa accommodations.
• Double-check confirmations you’ve received. If it confirms something you haven’t booked, it’s probably phishing. Brand names of popular sites are often used to produce fraudulent spam by cybercriminals. Avoid opening the email or clicking any links inside them. If you have a confirmation for a transfer or accommodation you’ve previously booked, use airline or hotel websites to ensure its validity. Don’t click links in your confirmation– type the website name into the address bar of your browser.
• Additionally, do not open any email attachments sent from travel agencies, hotels or airlines. Reputable companies will not send confirmations in an attachment. If you doubt the authenticity of an email, you can always contact the company involved using the contact details provided on their official site.
• If you have frequent flyer miles accumulated for an airline, stay alert and don’t react to any suspicious messages you may receive by email. Instead of checking your account within the email, type out the URL of the airline’s designated homepage and login directly, as opposed to clicking on links from third parties. From there, check your account for any notifications that match the one sent in the email to verify if it’s legitimate.
• Protect your logins to airline or travel agency websites with a unique, complex password/passphrase that you maintain privately and securely.
• Use total protection of your computer to avoid malicious sites and attachments.

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