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Travel Smart: 9 Ways to Prevent Scams on Your Next Trip

Recently, you may have heard about a devastating scam that cost someone a $15,000 Carnival cruise. Just one day before their meticulously planned trip, the booking was canceled by a scammer who exploited their Facebook-posted booking reference number to refund the $12,000 room under a false identity. Despite tracing the culprit’s IP address to British Columbia, Carnival couldn’t identify the swindler, causing them and their family to miss their vacation. With the summer travel season in full swing, it’s crucial to be aware of potential scams. Here are nine tricky travel traps to avoid, ensuring a safe and enjoyable trip.

1. Don’t Post About Travel Plans Before Departure

Sharing travel plans on social media can be exciting, but it can also make you a target for thieves. Broadcasting your absence from home can attract burglars who are on the lookout for empty houses to rob. To avoid this risk, keep your travel plans private until you return. This way, you can enjoy your vacation without worrying about the security of your home.

2. Watch for Fake Booking Sites and Bogus Trip Insurance

Scammers often create fake booking sites and offer bogus trip insurance to steal money and personal information. To protect yourself, always book travel arrangements directly through the company’s official website. Before entering any payment details, verify the site’s legitimacy by looking for secure payment icons and reading online reviews. This simple precaution can help you avoid falling victim to these scams.

3. Don’t Tell Strangers Where You’re Staying

While it’s nice to make new friends on vacation, be cautious when sharing accommodation details with strangers. Even if someone seems trustworthy, you never know their true intentions. Keeping your lodging information private can help you avoid unwanted attention and potential security risks. If someone persistently asks where you are staying, it’s best to remain vague and change the subject.

4. Don’t Take Unofficial Rides

Getting into unofficial rides can be risky, even if the car looks like a taxi. To ensure your safety, reserve transportation in advance, use a rideshare app, or ask the airport information desk where to find the official taxi service. Licensed drivers have undergone background checks and are regulated by authorities, making them a safer option compared to unlicensed ones.

5. Don’t Fall for the “Broken” Meter

Some dishonest cab drivers might claim their meter is broken and then charge an outrageous fare. To avoid being overcharged, always check the meter before the ride starts. If the driver says it’s broken, ask them to reset it or find another cab. It’s better to be cautious than to pay an inflated fare.

6. Watch Out for Money-Exchange Skimmers

When you need local currency in another country, it’s safer to use an ATM at an official bank rather than one in a tourist area. Skimmers often target tourists by placing devices on ATMs to steal card information. Using a credit card whenever possible provides added protection, as credit card companies have robust fraud detection and protection measures in place.

7. Avoid Public Free Wi-Fi

Scammers can create fake Wi-Fi hotspots to hack into unsuspecting travelers’ devices. Before connecting, always verify the Wi-Fi name with an employee. Crooks often use names very similar to the official Wi-Fi to trick people into connecting to their fraudulent network. Using a VPN can add an extra layer of security when using public Wi-Fi.

8. Watch Bags — Even in the Hotel

Scammers sometimes create distractions while you are checking in, allowing an accomplice to steal your bags. Keeping an eye on your luggage and staying calm if someone approaches can prevent theft. Securing your belongings by using hotel safes and being vigilant in public areas is always a good practice.

9. No Such Thing as a “Free” Photo

Be wary of people offering to take photos at famous attractions. They might take a picture and then demand payment. If someone forcefully jumps into a picture, it’s best not to pose or snap. Protecting your camera and valuables is crucial to avoid falling into this scam. Politely decline such offers and rely on your travel companions to capture those memorable moments.

Conclusion

Traveling can be an enriching and joyous experience, but staying vigilant and aware of potential scams is crucial. By following these tips, you can protect yourself and your belongings, ensuring an enjoyable and stress-free vacation. A little caution goes a long way in keeping your travels safe and fun.


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