As travel becomes more popular with fewer restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, scammers are finding a way to take advantage of their victims’ hard-earned money. Victims have been waiting to go on their planned trips that they had back in 2020, and are booking new reservations for 2021. Since restrictions are lifting due to the COVID-19 vaccine being out for a few months, victims are going on much-needed vacations away from their homes. Scammers are finding ways to call their victims about their trip, offer coronavirus tests for a hefty price, and offer rentals that aren’t even for rent! Keep scrolling to view the top 5 travel scams you need to avoid!
Travel Scams Have Risen Since The Pandemic Restrictions Were Lifted
According to CNN, the latest data from RoboKiller (a spam call blocker app) showed that the number of unsolicited telemarketing calls related to travel will grow to 4.9 billion calls in 2021, which represents an 80% increase from last year in 2020. RoboKiller also projects 2.25 billion travel-related messages will be sent in 2021, a 300% increase from 2021. This shows just how much traveling is gaining popularity since the coronavirus restrictions are lessening.
The number of travel websites, fake travel booking phone numbers, and phishing emails have been surfacing all over the web. People fall for deals that are too good to be true, thinking they will save a buck, but end up losing their entire life savings instead.
People are vulnerable to these types of scams, since they haven’t traveled in so long. Many people don’t know how much they should be spending on a flight anymore, or think that a travel site is offering good deals to encourage people to travel. However, what they don’t know is that scammers are using this opportunity to trick their victims out of money.
When booking your travels, make sure to keep your eye out for the different types of travel scams.
5 Travel Scams to Watch Out For When Traveling in 2021
Fake Coronavirus Test Kits
Scammers claim to have testing kits that can be conveniently shipped to their victims’ homes before they go travel. They reach out to their victims via a phishing email, text message, or phone call. They claim that all victims need to do is fill out a form online with their personal and financial information or tell someone this information over the phone in order to receive an at-home COVID-19 test. Once the victim fills out their information, their bank account gets drained and the scammers commit identity fraud with their information.
Fake Travel Websites
Scammers create fake websites that are viewable via phishing emails and text messages or on search engines. These websites advertise airlines, vacation rentals, and more that victims can purchase at a too-good-to-be-true price. Once victims go onto these websites, malware gets installed on their devices without their knowledge.
Then, victims are instructed to enter their personal information and financial information onto the website in order to receive the deal being advertised. However, once victims enter this information into the website, scammers steal their personal and financial information and use it to steal their money and identities.
Scam Travel Customer Service
Victims research customer service numbers in order to book their next vacation. They call the phone number that they find online, and the person on the other line states that they can offer flights for a too-good-to-be-true price.
The victim agrees and hands over their personal and financial information to the scammer who claims to be a customer service agent on the phone. The victim thinks they are getting a reasonably priced flight, but instead, they get drained of their life savings and their identity gets stolen.
Phony Vacation Rentals
Scammers create fake vacation rentals on fake websites and legit rental websites. These rental options include cars, houses, boats, RVs, and more. Victims go on the listing to try and rent these items for a day. They are usually instructed to call a phone number on the website in order to learn more about the rental.
Once they call the phone number, the scammer claims that there’s a good deal on the rental and encourages victims to purchase it immediately. Victims give up their personal and financial details in order to rent their vacation rental, only to be left with no money and a stolen identity.
Phishing Emails and Text Messages
Scammers send phishing emails and text messages to their victims, claiming that they have good deals on vacations. They prompt victims to click on the link in order to learn more about these vacation opportunities.
When victims click on the link, they are directed to a fake website and are instructed to fill out their personal and financial information in order to receive the deal. Malware also installs on their device without them knowing. However, once they hand over their information the scammers steal their identity and money.
How to Avoid Travel Scams
- Don’t give your personal and financial information to anyone you don’t know.
- Don’t click on any links through suspicious emails or text messages.
- Do your research before making a purchase through a travel company you’ve never heard of.
- Only make purchases through official websites of companies that you know of.
- Don’t call any customer service numbers unless it’s through the official website of a trusted company.
- Don’t rent from websites you have never heard of.
- Report any scam rentals to the listing website you are using if it happens to be a legit website.
- Only go to your doctor or coronavirus testing sites around you to get tested for COVID-19.
- Report any scam that you have been a part of to the FTC.
Social Catfish is Here to Help You!
At Social Catfish, we want to help you verify the identities of those who might seem suspicious to you. If you have their name, email address, phone number, social media username, or image, you can reverse search and see who the suspected person was that you’ve been in contact with if you think you’ve been a victim of travel scams after the pandemic restrictions have lifted.