Tips for a Scam-Free Vacation

I hope everyone had a safe and happy Fourth of July. Did you know July is National Auto Theft Prevention Month? Although the warm weather allows for summertime activities, it also opens up windows of opportunity (literally) for car thieves. Auto-theft is on the rise (up 9.4% since 2017) in Colorado, but there are habits everyone can practice to combat this crime – starting by never leaving your car windows open. Throughout the month, follow us on Twitter @DenverDAsOffice for weekly tips about how to avoid falling victim to auto-theft.

In addition to staying vigilant regarding car theft, remember that summer travel brings ample opportunity for hackers and scammers. Booking flights, hotels, and excursions online can make you more vulnerable to fraud. Read the travel tips below to prevent your relaxing vacation from becoming a costly nightmare. 

1. Book travel plans through reliable companies.

Whether you are booking travel or hotels online or directly, be sure to check reviews of the company. You can do this by looking up the company’s name followed by the word “scam,” “review,” or “complaint.”

If you plan on using a web based rental service, make sure you go through the company’s licensed website, not a third-party website. Scammers list vacation properties that they do not own or that does not exist through third-party sites which allows them to steal credit card information, and leave victims not only without a place to stay, but possibly as a victim of identity theft.

2. Check for hidden fees.

Many hotels add additional fees that are not obvious on the booking confirmation. Check to see if your hotel requires that you pay resort fees, WiFi, service fees, use of the hotel safe, or parking fees. Even if you do not plan on using amenities such as gyms or pools, these fees are typically non-negotiable and can add hundreds of dollars to your projected expenses.

Airlines often charge cancellation or flight change fees. When booking your flight, check the refund policy, especially if you do not have travel insurance.

3. Bring copies of reservation confirmations.

Sometimes companies lose track of reservations or claim to have never received them. Having proof of payment and confirmation details will help if your reservation gets “lost.”

4. Protect your mobile devices.

Not all public WiFi networks are secure, so be wary if your device is sending warnings about potential security threats. Watch this video to learn more about how hackers use free WiFi networks to steal information:

Public charging stations can also pose a risk to your privacy. Some hackers have successfully wired these ports to hidden software that can extract passwords, emails, personal information, and credit card information. If possible, charge your devices using traditional outlets with your own charging cord.

5. Know the signs of rental scams.

While browsing rental websites, do not be fooled by ridiculously low rates or warnings that you may “lose your chance” at a good deal if you do not book immediately. Scammers play into our desire to save money on vacations, but falling for these tricks may result in wasting hundreds of dollars in the pursuit of a “deal” that was fake all along. Take your time, check market rates, and pay attention to reviews (or a lack thereof) before securing a rental.