Right now, in the United States, summer vacation season is here and so are scams. Here are three tips to help you avoid summer travel scams.
1. Watch out for deals that look too good to be true. If you’re still making vacation plans, then you’re probably looking for deals. If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers regularly post fake vacation rental home ads on sites like Craigslist and “free vacation” offers that you get by email probably have strings attached.
If you’re buying tickets or vacation packages online, make sure you follow the same due diligence that you do whenever you buy anything online.
For more information, see Email and web scams: How to help protect yourself.
2. Your friend probably didn’t just get robbed in a foreign country. A scammer can take over (or hijack) an email account and send an email to you that looks like it is from a friend. When scammers hijack an email account they regularly prey on the goodwill of the people in your contact list. If you get an email from a friend who needs you to send him money while he’s on his vacation, be suspicious. Find a different way to try to contact your friend to find out if this email really came from him. With Hotmail you can now report a friend who you think has been scammed, even if that friend doesn’t use Hotmail.
For more information, see “I’ve been mugged. Send money!”
3. Be careful with vacation details that you post on your social networking sites and out-of-office emails. We’re not saying that you shouldn’t brag about your Italian vacation to all of your Facebook friends and Twitter followers. We’re just suggesting that you wait until you get home in order to prevent this information from falling into the wrong hands.
For more information, see 11 tips for social networking safety.
Finally, while you probably need to set up an email auto-responder to inform your co-workers that you’ll be out of the office, you probably don’t need to do the same for your personal email account. You can decide if it’s worth it to risk alerting cybercriminals that you’re on vacation.
For more information about security on-the-go, see our Mobile and wireless section.