Don’t let a scammer spoil your next vacation. Here are the latest scams to look out for:
First: The nonexistent vacation rental. Millions of travelers search for places to stay online but that makes you a target for scam artists. Like one woman who was looking for a beach rental on Craigslist. She signed a legitimate-looking contract, complete with a rental company logo, and wired a $700 deposit through Western Union. Turned out the rental didn’t exist. Experts say you should never book a room with a money order or wire transfer, because the money’s untraceable. And if you’re not dealing with a company that verifies their users like AirBnB, giving out a credit or debit card number puts you at even more risk. If you’re not sure who you’re dealing with, pay them through PayPal. Because they track transactions, and carry insurance to cover dishonest deals.
Another vacation scam: The fake front desk call. That’s where someone calls your hotel room at 2 am, pretending they’re the front desk. They claim there was a computer glitch, and they need to verify your credit card information. If you’re half-asleep, you might not question the request, but if you give them your number, they’ll run up all kinds of charges before breakfast. Remember, the hotel would have known there was a problem when you checked in, because that’s when they put a hold on your card for the room. If you’re not sure a call’s legit, hang up and call the front desk yourself.
The final summer scam to beware of: “Evil Twin” Wi-Fi hotspots. That’s the name given to fake Wi-Fi hotspots, created by hackers, with names that are similar or identical to real hotspots at hotels. Then they sit back, and wait for people to log on. And they watch everything you do, from checking your email, to logging into your bank account. To protect yourself, don’t have your device automatically look for open Wi-Fi networks. Your device could log on to an “evil twin” network without you even realizing it. Also, most hotels have their Wi-Fi password protected. So ask the front desk for the name of their network, and the password.