Looking for a vacation deal online? Here’s advice on how to spot scams.
Welcome to Cyber Security Today. It’s Wednesday June 26th. I’m Howard Solomon, contributing reporter on cyber security for ITWorldCanda.com.
Criminals don’t take vacations, which is why you still have to be cautious online this time of year.
If a survey done by security company McAfee is representative, approximately one in eight Canadians have been scammed or nearly scammed when booking a vacation online. The result can be a loss of thousands of dollars in phony bookings, stolen identity, or both. Nearly one-third of those who fell for vacation scam were defrauded by falling for a deal that was too good to be true, says the McAfee survey.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre reports a scam where fraudsters post ads for vacations for sale, perhaps including airfare, on common websites like Kijiji and Craigslist. Buyers have to pay in full before the tickets are transferred in their names. But at the airport the victim learns the tickets are fake. There are rental and timeshare scams as well.
So here’s what you should do:
— When looking for vacations only access verified web sites or sites you know can be trusted. Ask for recommendations from people you know;
— Use trusted platforms and verified payment methods when finalizing your bookings. Fraudsters may try to lure you away from a legitimate site with the promise of discounted rates. Keep all your communications and bookings on trusted platforms and verify the site before entering payment information. You’ve got to be careful: A hotel web site can be legitimate, but criminals may have infected the payment system, so when you go to another page to pay your money goes to a crook;
–Be suspicious if an online ad doesn’t give the exact address of the rental and the same property is listed several times with different contact people. Be suspicious if credit cards are not accepted and you have to pay by wire transfer, money order, or cashier’s cheque;
— Use security software that protects your identity and can warn about suspicious web sites;
— If you’re on a mobile device be careful paying for things on a public Wi-Fi connection — like in stores, restaurants on city streets — unless you’re using a virtual private network or VPN. You’re safer using your cellular connection.
That’s it for Cyber Security Today. Links to details about these stories can be found in the text version of each podcast at ITWorldCanada.com. That’s where you’ll also find my news stories aimed at businesses and cyber security professionals. Cyber Security Today can be heard on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or add us to your Flash Briefing on your smart speaker. Thanks for listening. I’m Howard Solomon