About one in eight Canadians (13%) have been scammed or nearly scammed when booking a vacation online, according to a recent survey by virus software giant McAfee.
The survey of 1,000 Canadians found that bargain hunters were most at risk for travel booking fraud, with nearly a third of vacation scam victims (33%) being defrauded after spotting a deal that appeared as a great offer but turned out to be a scam.
As cybercriminals take advantage of consumers’ travel booking habits, they are targeting these top summer destinations for Canadian travelers via potentially malicious sites: Palm Springs, California; Male, Maldives; Belize City, Belize; Chicago, Illinois; and Cancun, Mexico.
Results from the fraudulent activity in Canada include 30% of travel-related scam victims reporting that they lost between $1,000 and $3,000.
In the U.S., McAfee’s study of cyber travel fraud named Canmore, British Columbia, as one of the top five summer destinations among American travelers that hackers were targeting.
“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,” said McAfee’s Chief Consumer Security Evangelist Gary Davis.
Scammers use fake websites, apps, or phishing emails designed after high search volumes for accommodations and deals in popular destinations to access a potential travelers’ credit card and personal information or install malware. These scams forge legitimate websites, like online storage accounts, hoping to trick you into entering your login details. Avoid “free” offers, or deals that sound too good to be true. They probably are.
New phishing web pages grew by 900,000 in the third quarter of 2018 alone, costing consumers and businesses potentially billions of dollars, according to McAfee. In fact, most malware is delivered by phishing attacks, and malware grew by 53% in the third quarter of last year.
Unsure about a company’s legitimacy? Talk to a trusted travel agent or check the Better Business Bureau for reviews from previous customers.
Consumers can also protect their personal information by using a personal virtual private network (VPN) when conducting transactions over a public WiFi connection, like in a hotel or airport.
“The last thing that consumers should have to deal with during or after a vacation is an identity scam or personal privacy issue.”