Ah, summer – it’s a season for adventure, exploration, and well-deserved vacations! You’ve worked hard all year to enjoy a relaxing beach getaway or exciting international journey, and Chartway is here to help ensure travel fraud doesn’t derail your plans. So, before you pack your bags, let’s review some essential tips for worry-free travel this summer.

Understanding Travel Fraud

In today's digital world, travel fraud is an ever-present threat. Sneaky scammers exploit our reliance on online transactions and sharing of personal information to target us at various stages of our journey. From fake booking sites to identity theft schemes, fraudsters can turn a dream getaway into your worst nightmare. Being vigilant, taking proactive steps, and understanding these four common types of travel fraud will be key to safeguarding against potential scams during your summer travels:

  1. Booking Scams: Fraudsters create fake travel websites or send tempting emails offering incredible deals on flights, accommodations, and vacation packages. The scammers vanish once you provide personal and financial information, leaving you with compromised credit card details and no travel plans. 
  2. Fake Vacation Rentals: Scammers advertise attractive properties on popular platforms, presenting stunning photos and unbeatable rates. You pay upfront, only to arrive at your destination and find that the property doesn’t exist or is misrepresented.
  3. Hotel and Tourist Spot Scams: At hotels, airports, and tourist spots, fraudsters pose as helpful staff or taxi drivers. They’ll offer you assistance to steal your personal belongings or credit card information through skimming devices or other deceptive practices.
  4. Identity Theft: Fraudsters steal your personal information, like passport details or credit card numbers, to open fraudulent accounts or make unauthorized transactions, leading to financial turmoil and a lengthy recovery process for you.

Traveling can be exciting and should be about amazing memories, not fraud headaches. You can focus on new adventures by staying vigilant and using the right safeguards.

Protecting Yourself Against Fraud

Now that you know what to look for, let’s talk about some effective strategies to ensure your summer remains fun and fraud-free:

  1. Safeguard Personal Information: Be cautious when sharing sensitive details such as passport numbers or credit card information with unfamiliar websites or services. Look for warnings like "Not Secure" or red padlock icons in the address bar. Avoid sites that display these warnings, and ensure the site uses HTTPS, which you can verify by clicking on the address bar to see the full URL.
  2. Activate Fraud Alerts: Contact one of the three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion—to request a fraud alert. The bureau you contact will notify the other two, and the alert will stay on your file for a specific period, usually 90 days. During this time, creditors must take additional steps to verify your identity before approving any credit.
  3. Set Up Travel Notifications: At Chartway, you can set up a travel notification in your Online Banking account to make us aware of when and where you are traveling so, we can notify you if we see suspicious activity.
  4. Place a Security Freeze: When freezing your credit, you must make a separate request with each credit bureau. These security freezes then restrict access to your credit report, making it nearly impossible for fraudsters to open new accounts in your name. Your PIN is required to lift the freeze temporarily or permanently when you want to apply for a new line of credit.

Travel and Fraud Best Practices

 As you prepare to hit the road or take flight, here are some practical tips to keep you safe and secure:

  1. Choose Reputable Travel Providers: Research companies’ reputations, read reviews, and check for certifications or accreditations. Well-known, trusted providers prioritize customer safety and have solid security measures in place.
  2. Secure Your Belongings: Keep a close eye on your personal items, especially when visiting crowded tourist spots, using public transportation, or going through airport security. You’ll also want to lock your valuables in a safe or your suitcase while away from your room or rental.
  3. Enable two-factor authentication: This adds an extra layer of security by requiring a verification code or fingerprint scan in addition to your password.
  4. Select Payment Methods: Opt for credit cards over debit cards, as they offer stronger fraud protection and the ability to dispute unauthorized charges. Choose mobile payment services with two-factor authentication for extra protection.
  5. Use Secure Wi-Fi: Public Wi-Fi hotspots can be a haven for hackers. Stick to secure, password-protected networks or use a virtual private network (VPN) for an added layer of protection.
  6. Monitor Financial Statements: Regularly check your bank and credit card statements for any suspicious activity, and report unauthorized charges immediately.

Travel is an enriching experience that creates lasting memories. However, the rise in travel fraud necessitates proactive measures to protect yourself. By understanding the risks, using fraud prevention tools, and following best practices, you can enjoy a safe and enjoyable trip.

At Chartway, your protection is our priority. That’s why we're committed to providing you with the resources and support you need wherever your travels take you. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us. We look forward to ensuring you have the very best summer vacation. Safe travels!