Welcome to the Oregon FBI Tech Tuesday segment. Today: Build a digital defense against travel scams.
It seems everyone is desperate to escape this summer… to somewhere other than your basement office or the neighborhood park. And, finally, with the lifting of the blockages, we have the chance to travel.
Beware though – scammers won’t pass up such a great opportunity. Your desire to go out drives their desire to cash in at your expense.
Here are some tips from our friends at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):
- Beware of “free” vacation offers that require you to pay fees or taxes to obtain them.
- Pay attention to the details. We offer you a stay in a “five star” resort or a cruise on a “luxury” ship … but the contact will not give you more details? It’s a red flag if you can’t get the hotel name and address or cruise line details.
- Just say no if the travel offer requires you to pay by wire transfer, gift card, or cryptocurrency. Scammers know that once you pay in one of these ways, it is almost impossible for you to get your money back. Always pay by credit card.
- Don’t allow someone to force you to make a quick decision about a “good deal”. Scammers use social engineering techniques – playing on your fear of missing out – to trick you into acting mindlessly.
- Watch for upscale vacation properties advertised at super low prices. Below-market rent could be a sign of a scam. Do some additional research to confirm the deal is legitimate before you jump in.
- Obtain a copy of the cancellation and refund policies before paying. If you can’t get those details, go.
- Do your own research. Look for travel agencies, hotels, rentals, and agents with the words “scam”, “review” or “complaint”.
- Check the property’s address to make sure it really exists. If the property is located in a complex, call the front desk to confirm their location and other details on the contract.
If you are the victim of online fraud, you should also report the incident to the FBI Internet Crime Complaints Center at www.ic3.gov or call your local FBI office.