Dodge holiday travel scams with these ten savvy strategies.

December 14, 2023
1 min read

Key points:

  • A cyber attack targeting traveling customers, such as recent attacks on Booking.com, has prompted two cyber-security and travel fraud experts to share their best tips to protect consumers when booking a trip.
  • In 2022, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received more than 55,330 reports of travel fraud adding up to $49 million loss in total.

As cyber-attacks become more prevalent, it is crucial to protect oneself when booking travel online. A recent target of such attacks has been Booking.com, where hackers first contact hotels with a phishing email, get hotel staff to click a link that downloads malware onto the hotel’s computers, and then targets customers with Booking.com reservations directly.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there were over 55,330 reported cases of travel fraud in 2022, resulting in a total loss of $49 million. Furthermore, a survey of 7,000 people across seven countries by computer security software company McAfee discovered that one in three travellers have been scammed or know someone who has.

The experts suggest ten steps for secure travel bookings:

  1. If a correspondence seems urgent or pressurising, it’s a potential red flag.
  2. Remember that nearly anything can be fabricated, including recipient’s names and business webpages.
  3. Avoid clicking links, downloading attachments from supposed business emails, and prevent transferring money due to an email request.
  4. If suspicious, contact the business directly using contact details from their official website.
  5. Refrain from clicking online ads related to your previous searches as they might be fraudulent.
  6. Use only trustworthy third-party booking sites.
  7. Always check reviews.
  8. Never pay with a wire transfer.
  9. Maintain your guard even while travelling and especially avoid using public Wi-fi networks without a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
  10. Consider using a travel agent for booking.

It is important to note that even with these precautions, consumers should always remain vigilant, especially as hackers become more sophisticated in their methods. While booking travel online can be convenient and usually safe, staying informed about potential scams can help prevent falling victim to costly cyber-attacks.

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