Whether we like it or not, travel scams exist all over the world, and they can happen to the best of us.
Fear of travel scams can easily hold us back from those carefree, adventurous, and impulsive experiences that make overseas travel great. While 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 scammers access to your device, online accounts and passwords.
How to avoid it:
1. 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.
2. 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 while connected. Everything you need to know about VPNs for travel can be found here.
3. 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’ve got no idea what happened, but that may be because you have just been scammed. Shady rental companies sometimes conspire to get additional payment off you by stealing or scratching your rental themselves.
How to avoid it:
1. Ensure that you are going to a reputable hire company – ideally those with good reviews online.
2. 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.
3. If renting a bike, use your own lock (not the one provided by the company) to keep the bike safe while 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:
1. Before you travel, consider using ING’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 and will be ready to minimise the damage.
2. 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 while travelling.
3. 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, split cards and cash between you, in the event you are separated or one of you is pick-pocketed.
ATM – Automatic Theft Machine
The scam: You’ve just found the perfect souvenir at the marketplace, but the catch is they only take cash. Not to worry – there’s an ATM over there. You withdraw your cash and all seems well, but a few days later, you notice some mysterious transactions that you didn’t make appear on your online banking statement. Looks like your PIN has been skimmed and a scammer is using your card.
How to avoid it:
1. Cover your PIN when you enter it – scammers can sometimes put pinhole cameras in the ATMs to watch you as you enter your code.
2. Use ATMs alongside a travel companion if possible to deter potential thieves.
3. When possible, withdraw money from within a financial institution such as a bank. Don’t be deterred by potential ATM fees though. If you have an Orange Everyday or Orange One card you can get these fees rebated within five business days if you deposit $1,000+ into an Orange Everyday every month and make five+ card purchases.
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 app or just give us a call on 133 464.
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 app or give us a call anytime (yes, literally any time) on +61 2 9028 4077.
Rebate Offers for Orange Everyday and Orange One Customers
The Global ATM Rebate Offer and the International Transaction Fee Rebate Offer will apply for the next calendar month when you perform the following during the current calendar month:
• deposit at least $1,000 from an external bank account to any personal ING account in your name (excluding Living Super and Orange One), and
• also make at least 5 card purchases using your ING debit or credit card (excluding ATM withdrawals, balance enquiries, cash advances and EFTPOS cash out only transactions).
Card purchases includes in store credit or EFTPOS purchases, online purchases, regular card payments, payWave, Apple Pay, and Google Pay transactions made with an Orange Everyday Visa card, Orange One or Orange One Platinum Visa card or Nil Interest Visa card provided with an eligible ING home loan. Card purchases made in store or online this current calendar month which settle next calendar month do not count towards the 5 card purchases needed this current calendar month.
When determining if you are eligible under the offer, we also take into account the behaviour of any of your joint account holders or additional cardholders.
• for ATMs in Australia – any ATM fee charged by the ATM operator is rebated immediately following the transaction,
• for ATMs outside Australia – ING will rebate the International ATM withdrawal fee of $2.50 immediately after it is charged and rebate any ATM fee charged by the ATM operator at settlement of the transaction. While the transaction is pending the amount of the acquirer fee will be deducted from your available balance and will be reinstated after the transaction is finalised. ATM transactions outside Australia can take up to 5 business days to finalise, and
• for ING international transaction fees – ING will rebate the International Transaction fee (Orange Everyday) and Foreign Currency Conversion fee (Orange One) of 2.5% of the amount of the international transaction immediately after it is charged. Merchants may charge you a separate fee for their services (which is not rebated under this offer).
If eligible, the offer applies to:
• all Orange Everyday accounts held in your name (either single or joint account), and
• all Orange One accounts held in your name (including in respect of any additional cardholder).
This offer may be changed or withdrawn at any time at ING’s sole discretion. The ING cash advance fee for Orange One customers is not rebated under this offer.
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