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Travel and Fraud Prevention – Safeguarding Your Summer Time – Fun Time

For many people, now is the time to start fulfilling those long-awaited summer activities. You are prepared for a journey to explore new destinations – whether a vacation, a business trip, or some other fun adventure; making sure travel fraud thieves do not ruin your travel plans is essential.

Travel fraud is a growing concern, ranging from stolen credit card information to identity theft. It has the potential to turn your dream vacation into a nightmare. In this blog, we’ll explain travel fraud, discuss the importance of fraud prevention in travel and explore two crucial tools: fraud alerts and security freezes.


Understanding Travel Fraud

Fraudsters, fueled by the increasing reliance on online transactions and the sharing of personal information, target travelers at various stages of their journey, such as during the booking process, at hotels or rental car agencies, or even at popular tourist spots. It is essential to be vigilant and take proactive steps to protect yourself against potential scams. Here are four common forms of travel fraud you need to be aware of as you set out on your summer journeys.

  • One common form of travel fraud occurs during the booking process. Fraudsters create fake travel websites or send enticing emails offering unbelievable deals on flights, accommodations, or vacation packages. Unsuspecting travelers are enticed by the allure of huge discounts, providing their personal and financial information, only to realize later that they’ve fallen into a well-laid trap. These fraudsters vanish into thin air, leaving their victims with compromised credit card information and no travel plans.

  • Second common form involves fake vacation rentals. Scammers advertise properties on popular platforms, presenting stunning photos and attractive rates. Travelers eager to secure a comfortable and affordable stay make payments upfront, only to arrive at their destination and discover that the property doesn’t exist or was misrepresented. Their hard-earned money vanishes, and their dream vacation turns into a nightmare.

  • Third common is when fraudsters target tourists at hotels, airports, and popular tourist spots. They may pose as helpful staff or taxi drivers, offering assistance with luggage or transportation. In reality, they have ulterior motives, attempting to steal personal belongings or obtain credit card information through skimming devices or deceptive practices.

  • Fourth common is Identity theft. Fraudsters may obtain personal information, such as passport details or social security numbers, and use them to open fraudulent accounts or make unauthorized transactions. This can have long-lasting effects on victims, leading to financial turmoil and the arduous process of restoring their identity.

Traveling can be exciting, relaxing, and productive, but you must remain vigilant and adopt preventive measures to protect yourself from it being a disaster. By staying informed, using reputable travel providers, practicing safe online transactions, and monitoring financial statements, you can reduce the risk of falling victim to travel fraud and ensure a safe and enjoyable journey.


PROTECTION AGAINST FRAUD

A positive aspect of the digital age is there are ways to protect yourself from the above fraudsters. Here are some ways to make sure your Summer Fun Time stays fun.

Protecting Personal Information: One of the key aspects of travel fraud prevention is safeguarding personal information. Be cautious when sharing sensitive details such as passport numbers, credit card information, or social security numbers, especially when dealing with unfamiliar websites or services. Ensure that the websites you use are secure, with a padlock icon in the address bar and an “https://” prefix such as: ūüĒí
 
Activate Fraud Alerts: Fraud alerts are an effective tool to protect yourself against identity theft and unauthorized account activity. Fraud alerts are like the trusty guardians of your credit and identity. They act as a shield, warding off those pesky fraudsters just itching to get their hands on your hard-earned cash.
 
To place a fraud alert on your credit reports, you need to:
1. Contact one of the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion.
2. Request that the credit bureau place a fraud alert on your reports.
3. Let the alert remain on your file until it expires, or remove it early if needed.

4. Once the alert expires, decide whether to renew it or enroll in further credit protection.

When you activate a fraud alert, it’s active for a specific period (usually 90 days) and requires creditors to take extra steps to verify your identity. They might call you directly or ask for additional documentation before granting credit. It’s like making those fraudsters go through a high-security obstacle course with fiery hoops and laser beams to ensure they can’t slip past undetected.

This provides an additional layer of security, making it harder for fraudsters to open accounts in your name. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau provides detailed information on how to place a fraud alert and the duration for which it remains active.

You can place a free fraud alert on your credit reports online, by mail, or over the phone. To place an extended fraud alert, you’ll need to fill out a form and mail it to a major credit bureau.

Placing Security Freezes: Similar to fraud alerts, security freezes offer robust protection against identity theft. By placing a security freeze, you restrict access to your credit report, making it nearly impossible for fraudsters to open new accounts in your name. A security freeze locks your credit report, requiring a unique PIN to temporarily or permanently lift the freeze when necessary. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau outlines the process of placing a security
freeze and the associated costs, if any.
 

TRAVEL AND FRAUD BEST PRACTICES

As you prepare to hit the road or take flight, here are a few reminders and tips to keep you safe and secure:

  • Research and Choose Reputable Travel Providers: When booking flights, accommodations, or other travel-related services, opt for reputable providers. Research their reputation, read reviews, and check for certifications or accreditations. Trusted providers prioritize customer safety and implement robust security measures to protect against fraud.

  • Use Secure Payment Methods: When making online payments, use secure and trusted platforms. Consider using credit cards instead of debit cards, as credit cards often provide more robust fraud protection and offer the ability to dispute unauthorized charges. Additionally, mobile payment services with built-in security features, such as two-factor authentication, can provide an extra layer of protection.

  • Monitor Financial Statements: Regularly monitor your bank and credit card statements for unauthorized or suspicious transactions. Promptly report any discrepancies to your financial institution to initiate investigations and take appropriate action.

  • Enable Two-Factor Authentication: Wherever possible, enable two-factor authentication for your online accounts. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring a verification code or fingerprint scan in addition to your password, making it significantly more challenging for fraudsters to gain unauthorized access.

  • Stay Alert During Your Travels: While traveling, remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Keep an eye on your personal belongings, secure your valuables in a safe or locked luggage, and avoid sharing sensitive information or documents with strangers. Be cautious of suspicious Wi-Fi networks or ATMs that may be compromised.
 

Travel is an enriching experience that broadens our horizons and creates lasting memories. However, the rise in travel fraud necessitates proactive measures to protect ourselves and ensure a safe and enjoyable journey. By understanding the risks, implementing fraud prevention tools like fraud alerts and security freezes, and following best practices, we can significantly reduce the chances of falling victim to fraudulent activities.

At AODFCU, we take your protection very seriously; please get in touch with us with any questions or concerns and we look forward to making sure you have the very best summer travel experience.
 

For more information, visit MyCreditUnion.

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