Technology is a modern-day traveler’s best friend. It can make the trip-planning process more convenient and cost-effective: booking accommodations and flights, researching must-see spots, and financial planning can all be done with a connection to the internet and a Google search. And for most of us, it doesn’t stop once we’re actually on vacation – we still use our devices to share pictures, navigate, and stay connected to the world back home.
While cyber and technology can be great for enhancing travel, there are also risks associated with planning your travel online. Cyber travel scams such as fake websites and juice jacking are becoming increasingly common, which is why it’s essential to consider your assets in the digital world before heading off to explore the physical one.
As you prepare to embark on your next adventure, consider the following tips from the National Cybersecurity Association and the Cybercrime Support Network to help you remain protected against cyber travel scams and ensure that your biggest worries this summer are high humidity levels and reapplying SPF.
There are dozens of online sites claiming to offer the best travel deals and packages. A good rule to remember in this instance is: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers create fake travel booking websites that look like legitimate ones, but are designed to steal your money and personal information. They might offer attractive deals on flights, hotels, and vacation packages, but when you make a payment, your money goes straight into the scammers’ pockets.
Wi-Fi Hotspot Scams
Scammers set up fake Wi-Fi hotspots in public places like airports, cafes and hotels. These fake hotspots often have legitimate-sounding names—such as “Free Airport Wi-Fi” or “Hotel Guest Wi-Fi”— but they are designed to steal your personal information. Once you connect to the fake Wi-Fi network, the scammers can intercept your internet traffic and gain access to your sensitive information—such as passwords, credit card numbers and other personal data.
Prize scams involve scammers contacting you to say that you’ve won a free vacation, cruise or other travel prize. However, in order to claim your prize, you have to pay for taxes, fees or other expenses upfront. Once you pay, the scammers disappear, and you never receive your prize.
Vacation Rental Scams
Vacation rental scams involve scammers listing fake vacation rentals on legitimate websites like Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO. These scammers often offer attractive rental rates and photos of beautiful properties, but once you make a payment and show up, you find out that the property doesn’t exist, isn’t available for rent, or isn’t as described.
Public charging stations allow travelers to charge their devices. However, hackers can modify these charging stations to install malware onto connected devices, which can then steal personal data such as passwords, credit card numbers, and other sensitive information. In some cases, the malware can even lock the device and demand a ransom to release it.