With the international vacation season in full swing, people around the world are searching for enticing travel destinations, affordable accommodations, and reasonably priced flights. Kaspersky researchers have observed fraudsters taking advantage of unsuspecting users by offering cheap airline tickets, booking deals, and vacation packages.
RELATED: Black Friday: Beware! Hackers launch own holiday specials, Check Point Research alerts shoppers
To help travellers avoid scams, the company’s researchers have outlined common fraud schemes used to entice victims, along with valuable advice on planning a scam-free vacation.
Kaspersky experts have discovered numerous fraudulent websites claiming to offer cheap airplane tickets. These well-crafted phishing pages often mimic well-known airline services and ticket aggregators. Some even display real flight details by sending search requests to legitimate aggregators and presenting the received information. However, instead of delivering the promised tickets, these scams aim to steal your money and exploit your personal information for malicious purposes. This may include selling your bank details and identifying information on the dark web.
The second important step of trip planning is finding accommodation, which makes it a popular lure for fraudsters to exploit. One common accommodation scam involves fake online listings for vacation rentals or apartments. Scammers create attractive listings on popular platforms, displaying appealing photos and offering low prices to entice travellers. However, once a booking is made and payment is sent, the accommodation turns out to be non-existent.
Another type of accommodation scam targets hotel bookings. Fraudsters may set up fake websites that mimic legitimate hotel booking platforms. These websites often prompt users to log in using their Facebook or Google credentials, which enables scammers to gain unauthorised access to the victims’ social media or email accounts. This can lead to identity theft, unauthorised transactions, and other malicious activities.
Survey and giveaway scams
Scammers create deceptive websites or send emails claiming that participants can earn a substantial reward, such as USD100, by completing a travel survey. These scams often prey on people’s desire for financial gain and their willingness to share their opinions. However, these surveys are designed to collect personal information, such as name, address, phone number, and even financial details, under the guise of eligibility requirements or prize distribution. In reality, the promised reward is never delivered, and the information provided is used for fraudulent purposes, such as identity theft or unauthorised access to financial accounts. On top of this, the survey usually ends with a request to share the site with friends so that they can also receive a prize. In such cases, cybercriminals are using the victims themselves as a tool for spreading the scam further.
“Scammers are always on the lookout for unsuspecting travellers, targeting their excitement for vacation planning. From fake ticket aggregators to accommodation and survey scams, fraudsters employ various tactics to steal money and sensitive information. It’s crucial for travellers to stay vigilant and exercise caution when engaging in online travel activities. Verify the authenticity of websites, use trusted booking platforms, and never share personal or financial information without proper verification. Remember, a little skepticism can go a long way in ensuring a secure and scam-free vacation,” comments Olga Svistunova, security expert at Kaspersky.
To keep yourself protected while planning a vacation, Kaspersky experts recommend the following:
- Stick to reputable websites: Use trusted and well-known travel booking platforms, airlines and hotel websites when making reservations. Be cautious of unfamiliar or suspicious websites that offer unbelievably low prices or ask for excessive personal information.
- Verify website authenticity: Before making any transactions or providing personal details, double-check the website’s URL for secure connections (look for “https” and a padlock icon). Be wary of websites with slight misspellings or unusual domain names, as these may indicate fraudulent activity.
- Read reviews and do research: Research the accommodations, airlines or travel agencies you plan to use. Read reviews from reputable sources to get an idea of other travellers’ experiences and any potential red flags.
- Use a security solution: A trusted security solution, such as Kaspersky Premium, will protect you from all known and unknown forms of scams, including travel phishing.
Read the full Kaspersky blog post on travel scams and phishing here.