Don’t be that one! Summer travel should be all about rest, relaxation and fun. Unfortunately, cyber-criminals are targeting travelers in a variety of ways including on sites designed to steal personal data and hard-earned money.
A just-released study by McAfee found that one in five Americans have been scammed or nearly scammed when booking summer travel.
Additional concerning findings revealed in the study, which involved surveying 1,000 Americans, included:
— 30 percent of travel-related scam victims reported they lost between $1,000 and $3,000 as a result of the fraudulent activity.
— Nearly one-third (31 percent) of vacation scam victims were defrauded after spotting a deal that was too good to be true.
— Nearly one-third of consumers (31 percent) are leaving the door open to fraud because they do not check the authenticity of a website before booking a trip online
— Despite 36 percent of people expressing concerns about having their personal data stolen while on vacation, almost half (42 percent) said they either do not check the security of their internet connection or they willingly connect to an unsecured network while traveling.
The report from McAfee also identifies what it calls the riskiest destinations, places most vulnerable to booking scams.
The findings show that popular summer destinations in Mexico, Europe – and, surprisingly, Canmore, Canada – generate the riskiest search results when people are hunting for vacation deals online.
Here are the top summer destinations hackers are targeting via potentially malicious sites:
1. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
2. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
3. Amsterdam, Netherlands
4. Venice, Italy
5. Canmore, Canada
Taking advantage of the high search volumes for accommodation and deals in these popular destinations, cyber-criminals drive unsuspecting users to potentially malicious websites that can be used to install malware and steal personal information or passwords, according to McAfee.
Meanwhile, a small group of victims (13 percent) shared that their identity was stolen after sharing their passport details with cyber-criminals during the booking process.
The majority of survey respondents (80 percent) said they worry about having their identity stolen during the research and booking process or while traveling abroad for summer vacations.
But despite these worries, less than 25 percent of people feel that they have the right security in place to prevent their identity from being stolen.
“The last thing that consumers should have to deal with during or after a vacation is an identity scam or personal privacy issue,” Gary Davis, McAfee’s Chief Consumer Security Evangelist, said in a statement “While cybersecurity threats, unfortunately, exist during most stages of the booking and travel experience, consumers can take proactive steps to protect themselves and minimize the risk to ensure scams and other nefarious activities don’t spoil summer travel plans.”
So how does one keep their data safe? Here’s what McAfee suggests.
Only access verified websites
Only click on websites that your security software has identified as being safe. For example, McAfee WebAdvisor will identify safe websites with a green checkmark and will block malware and phishing sites if you accidentally click on a malicious link from your search results.
Use trusted platforms and verified payment methods when finalizing your bookings. Fraudsters may try to lure you away from a trusted platform with the promise of discounted rates. Remember to keep all your communications and bookings to trusted platforms and verify the site before entering payment information. This will help protect you from phishing and other cyber fraud.
Utilize an identity theft solution
With all this personal data floating around online, it’s important that you protect your identity. Use an identity theft solution to help protect personally identifiable information from identity theft and fraud.
Always connect with caution
If you have to conduct transactions on a public Wi-Fi connection, use a virtual private network (VPN) to help keep your connection secure.
Enjoy your summer travels and stay cyber-safe!