Whether we like it or not, travel scams exist all over the world. Worst still, they can happen to the best of us.
Fear of travel scams can easily hold us back from being carefree, adventurous, and impulsive – all the traits that define the best overseas travellers. But whilst these scams can be quite clever and inconspicuous, knowing how they work and how to avoid or minimise the damage is a great way to protect your right to comfortably switch to ‘holiday mode’.
To help ensure you have the happiest of travels here’s a few of the most common travel scams to look out for.
Pretty sly for a Wi-Fi
The scam: You’ve just captured the perfect shot and want to share it ASAP. You see an unlocked Wi-Fi connection and think ‘what luck!’ While it might be convenient, it pays to be wary. Internet fraudsters often set up free, but unencrypted, Wi-Fi connections in tourist hotspots that when connected, could allow the scammer access to your device, online accounts and passwords.
How to avoid it:
- Instead of caving in and using that tempting free Wi-Fi connection, verify the official Wi-Fi network of the establishment you’re in by asking a staff member for help. This way, you can be sure you’re using a secure connection (and you can get that coveted Wi-Fi password off them in one sweep).
- Use a virtual private network (or VPN) whenever you connect to a public Wi-Fi network in order to protect any data or passwords sent or received whilst connected. Everything you need to know about VPNs for travel can be found here.
- This one’s a biggie (and good for protecting yourself for more than just travel fraud): Never use the same password across multiple personal accounts.
The scam: You rent a bike or scooter off the first company you find, but before you know it, the bike gets stolen or damaged. You had no idea what happened, but that may be because you have just been scammed. Shady rental companies sometimes conspire to be able to demand additional payment off you by stealing or scratching your rental themselves.
How to avoid it:
- Ensure that you are going to a reputable hire company – ideally those with good reviews online.
- Take photos of the bike upon hiring to document previous damage. This way, you can be ready to refute any damage claims made upon return of the vehicle.
- If renting a bike, use your own lock (not the one provided by the company) to keep the bike safe whilst not in use. The company may have a second set of keys you don’t know about.
The scam: You’re walking along the cobblestone streets of your newest travel locale when all of a sudden you feel something drop onto your clothing. Before you can frantically search for the spot, a friendly stranger offers to help wipe it off for you. As they walk away, you realise they’ve just plucked your wallet from your pocket or bag.
How to avoid it:
- Before you travel, consider your situation and look into taking advantage of ING DIRECT’s security alert notifications. You can set up and manage your notifications in your online banking. That way, if a purchase or withdrawal occurs above an amount you set (which could be fraudulent), you’ll know about it to minimise the damage.
- As much as possible, keep your cards on your person and not in a bag. Using pants and jacket pockets that have zippers is one great way to help keep your cards safe whilst travelling.
- Don’t carry all your cards in the same place and only take the cards you intend to use. If you’re travelling with a companion, be sure cards and cash are split amongst you, in the event you are separated or one of you is pickpocketed.
In any case, be sure you also let us know when you are travelling. This helps us make sure your accounts are safe while you’re overseas. You can easily do this through the ING DIRECT app or simply give us a call on 133 464.
For the curious: Like we said, travel scams can happen to the best of us. But you don’t have to worry. If a thief swipes your card or you accidentally use dodgy Wi-Fi while you’re overseas, you can easily put your card on hold straight from your ING DIRECT app or give us a call anytime (yes, literally any time) on +61 2 9028 4077 (from overseas).
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