Be careful with giving personal information away when searching for cheap travel

Earlier we have mentioned how it is always wise to use a VPN-connection when it comes to researching travel and the purchase of travel tickets or packages. The British Center for Cyber Security has recently sent out a warning that supports this stance when it comes to the attempt of buying travel products.

They have gotten reports from British citizens that have received cold calls from sales people who gave the impression that they were calling from travel agencies that were able to offer them cheap air tickets. The only clue the center could find is that they all have been online to search for cheap travel, and the scammers, therefore, have been able to pick up the personal information that made it possible for the scammers to find the adventurous British citizens and to give an offer that for 110 people turned out to be too good to be true. All together they have lost almost 100,000 British pounds.

The websites have most likely been fake copies of well-known travel sites, and the scammers have used them to collect searches and personal data. Then they contacted the victims of the scam, and they even sent a confirmation e-mail for those who fell for the scam. Unfortunately the booking turned out to be false when the victims contacted the airline, and when they then tried to contact the scammers again, they were, of course, impossible to get hold on.

Some good advice is

  • If you are being contacted by someone unknown to you by phone, e-mail, or text message, and the offer sounds too good to be true, it is probably because something is wrong.
  • Before you purchase anything from a company that is unknown to you, it is wise to do a bit of research regarding the company. Is the company existing? Has the company been reviewed and so on.
  • Never pay with bank transfer. Pay with a card as you usually are better protected from fraud.
  • Never give your address, e-mail or other personal information if somebody cold calls you or when you search for travel sites.
  • Remember that just because somebody knows some basic facts about how to contact you, it is not the same as if they come from a legitimate company. Scammers are often a lot better at getting access to this information.

We recommend that you do the following to gain an extra layer of protection.

  • If you need to register yourself on a travel site, then give as little information as possible.
  • Always use an unique password that you are not using anywhere else. If you think this is annoying, we recommend that you use e.g. LastPass, that remembers your passwords and that also help you with the creation of strong random passwords.
  • Always use a VPN-connection when you search for cheap travel, so the search cannot be traced back to you. Read our post about VPNs and travel here
  • Create an extra e-mail address with a name that can’t be traced back to you.

Unfortunately, the world is filled with creative scammers, and it is therefore important to always be careful. The best strategy is to use quality tools that automatically protects your privacy, but you will still have to rely on your common sense as well.

You find the article by ActionFraud here.