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We all love a good discount. Especially if it lowers the costs of expensive travel plans booked at already discounted rates found on the web. But, like any big industry, the online discount travel booking universe is a magnet for scammers. The best advice for avoiding these schemes? Stick to the first page search engine results and the most well known and reputable online travel discount brands.
Pay-Per-Click Travel Scams
This travel scam is fairly low-level and not usually malicious. By creating fake websites of famous brands with similar URLs, it works by getting you to click through their fraudulent site, thereby creating an authentic PPC event, something advertisers pay top dollar for. Unfortunately, it gets you nowhere…
Search Engine Manipulation
Similar to the PPC scam, this one takes the process a step further and aggressively asks for your credit card info before the deal “Expires” or is booked by another customer. Don’t fall for it…
Travel Site Phishing Scam
This scam used to be reserved for fake banking alerts which urge you to change the password on your account by clicking a fake URL address similar to the bank you’re dealing with. But, as booking travel online has increased, so has this fraudulent scheme.
Fake Travel Voucher Scam
This scam works by awarding you a fake (and free) travel voucher and asking you to confirm by logging into your Facebook, Twitter or other Social Networking account. The SN login button is phony and scammers can access all kinds of info about you or infect your device with malicious spyware.
Fake TripAdvisor And Yelp Reviews
Competitors of popular destinations, hotels, entertainment venues and even restaurants and bars will plant phony, negative reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor. Read ALL the reviews. If a venue has a good rep, it will be evident no matter what a few scammers have to say.
The Stranded Traveler Scam
This scam works by accessing your Social Networking account and sending out urgent messages that you’re stranded while traveling on a trip your friends and family know you to be legitimately taking. It then instructs them to send money directly to “You” by electronic means.
Dummy Wi-Fi Network Scam
Scammers can set up authentic looking Wi-Fi access points near hotels and other tourist destinations that will steal your info if you connect your device. Be sure to ask the exact name of a Wi-Fi hotspot and always insist on a secure password to log in.
Confirm Fake Tickets Scam
This scam works by asking you go to a specific URL to confirm “winning” a free trip. It’s always fake but looks like the real thing. Remember: There’s no such thing as free…
A new twist on an old trick: Combo Fake Letter/Website Claim Scams. This one’s elaborate. You actually receive a piece of snail mail that looks like you’ve won a free trip. The “Prize Announcement” asks you to go to a specific URL to “claim” your package and then asks for personal information, particularly your financials. Remember, no legitimate company will ever say “We just need the first five digits of your Social Security Number…”