As Americans and businesses wait on taxpayer-funded relief money from the government, hackers join the wait and hope to steal your funds in the process.
It’s no surprise thieves are taking advantage of vulnerable Americans and scamming thousands out of their hard-earned cash.
In fact, the Federal Trade Commission has already reported over 18,000 complaints from consumers and estimates that victims have lost a whopping $13.4 million during the pandemic so far.
The good news is, you don’t have to fall prey to a scammer’s quest to steal your money. Here are a few scams to look out for.
Fraudulent Third-Party Sites
Maybe you’re feeling the pull to book a future trip so you have something to look forward to – and suddenly you stumble across a travel package that sounds like the best deal ever!
Of course it’s on a third-party site and it lures you in with phrases like “only one left” or “deal expires in 2-hours book now!”.
Whether you are promised a free week at a resort for a small fee, or a $10 a night hotel “deal,” remember scammers are counting on you to be impulsive and voluntarily give them all your financial information.
Trust your gut – if a vacation deal sounds too good to be true, chances are it is.
If you come across a travel website demanding personal information (think your social security number) or requiring an instant wire payment for gift cards – run.
Book your travel through the actual hotel or airline site.
As Proud American Traveler previously reported, many of these third-party sites are going under fast.
And just as many are popping up that aren’t even legit.
Fake Rebooking Sites
And then there are those who promise to help you get a refund for your canceled reservation or promise to help you rebook your trip.
Of course, they’ll ask you for the method of payment (hoping you just type in your banking or credit card information).
Once you give ‘em all your info, they’ll be more than happy to spend your money.
So always speak directly with the hotel, cruise line, or airline about getting your refund.
Don’t Download Stuff
Many hackers are copying the look of legit sites promising to provide the latest “hot map” of coronavirus cases to help you know what travel areas to avoid.
They’ll either ask for your email and start spamming you, hoping you’ll click on an attachment and download malware to your computer.
Or they’ll set up tracking codes to monitor your online action and steal your financial information that way.
Even though you feel like you’re “missing out” on the latest information – don’t take the bait and click!
But the goal is not to walk around in fear, terrified of getting hacked.
Just be smart.
Don’t rely on some outsider to help you get your money back from a canceled flight – that one’s all on you. (Please link “Here’s How To Get Airlines To Refund Your Money During COVID-19” – Not yet posted to PAT website – sent in for proofing on 4/13/20).
Make sure you aren’t clicking on links in emails or downloading “coronavirus tips” you receive from random sources.
Hackers are counting on you to click on these links so they can steal your passwords and financial information.
Scammers are placating to your fears, hoping you’ll put your faith in a stranger to get your money back.
You’ll get robbed.
And finally, be wary of websites promising to help you get your economic relief refund faster – they aren’t real.
Thieves play on emotion and count on frantic and scared people making impulsive decisions.
But if you keep your cool and remain levelheaded, you can avoid getting played by travel scammers.
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