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Watch Out for These Travel Scams

Travelers beware, you are a prime target for scammers and con artists who want your money, your luggage, even your identity.  As you gear up for your spring and summer travel, watch out for these travel scams and always use common sense when you’re traveling.

“The Luggage Thief” – You hail a taxi, put your luggage in, close the trunk or door, and before you can get in, the driver drives off with all of your belongings.  This happened to me in Rome, Italy, but it could happen anywhere.
How to Avoid: Only use reputable taxis from a taxi stand or that your hotel has specifically arranged for you.  In certain countries like Italy, hailing a taxi on the street will target you as a tourist.  If you are hailing a taxi, ask the driver to get out of the car and help you put your luggage in the trunk.  That way you will be getting into the taxi together!

“The Hotel Lock Hacker”-- Last fall, we saw a wave of hotel lock hackers using a device that looked like a dry-erease marker to break into electronic hotel locks. The hotels quickly put security measures in place fix the lock flaw and prevent it front happening in the future, but this is an example of how technology is creating a whole new level of travel scam.
How to Avoid: Pack a doorstop to put in the inside of your door for an extra layer of protection and don’t forget to use the safe!  Don’t leave your belonging out in plain sight.

“The Invisible Scammer – Free Wi-fi” – You get to a café or public space and discover, to your delight, that there is a free Wi-Fi network.  You think you’re saving a few dollars, but someone on the other end could have intentionally left the network open to  steal your information or hack your computer.
How to Avoid: Only use reputable Wi-Fi networks (Biongo hotspot, Skype Wi-Fi). It’s better to pay than to be robbed of your identity!

“Online Booking Scams Touted Through Social Media” – Social media is a fantastic way to find out about travel deals, but it’s important to trust the source. There are impostors on the Internet posing as independent tour companies, hotels, or low-cost flight carriers. They use social media to lure people in, and then take your money.
How to Avoid: Avoid being scammed in your online booking by using reputable OTAs (Online Travel Agency) like Travelocity, where your booking is backed by a guarantee. If you are booking with an independent company, do your research, read reviews and trust your gut.

“Fake Tour Scam”– You arrive in a foreign country and are lured in by a lovely sounding group tour of the surrounding area at a great price! You agree, hand over your money, but the tour isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and the places you visit are lackluster at best. The tour group is making commission from each of the tour stops, and you are often forced to spend admission fees along the way.
How to Avoid: Pre-arrange your tours with reputable local companies. Ask a lot of questions if you are booking a tour on the spot and ask for tour credentials.

Courtney Scott

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