Travel and leisure fraud is on the rise — here's how to protect yourself
Just as provinces and travel plans are opening up, fraudsters are buzzing around like mosquitos. Learn how to swat them down flat so they don't ruin your much deserved getaways and entertainment plans this season.
According to a recent report from TransUnion, there's good news when it comes to online scams. Canadians are paying attention to their online activity, and the rate of digital fraud originating in our country decreased in the first quarter of 2022, with suspected online attempts declining by 40.6% from the same quarter last year, inline with the global decrease of 22.6%.
However, fraudsters have pivoted and sectors like travel and leisure are being actively targeted.
Scammers cashing in on our adventures
Patrick Boudreau, Head of Identity Management and Fraud Solutions at TransUnion Canada, points out the increase in digital fraud in the travel and leisure sector can be attributed to the economy moving back to pre-pandemic levels, specifically in the travel industry. “Canadians started to get more comfortable with the idea of traveling again, and fraudsters caught on and directed their attention towards the activity spike in this sector."
How to protect yourself
“Canadians planning to travel in the future can take a number of precautions to protect themselves from fraudsters, including ensuring that they are only providing banking information to legitimate websites and businesses," says Boudreau.
He adds: “Consumers can take steps to protect themselves through credit monitoring, frequently changing passwords, and notifying lenders and organizations whenever they suspect fraud or see suspicious activity."
Consider these steps this summer to help protect your hard-earned dollars, as well as your credit and identity, from fraudsters:
- Never click social media or advertising links that ask for your financial or personal information. Go to the website directly and look for the lock icon on your browser bar, ensuring it's a secure site.
- Check your credit score regularly or consider credit monitor services.
- Pay with your credit or debit card whenever possible. If a vendor doesn't accept a credit or debit card that offers purchase protection, keep in mind you have no recourse to recoup your purchase if it goes sour.
- Check your bank and credit card statements, whether you receive them digitally or in the mail. If you find a fraudulent purchase, notify your financial institution immediately. And remember, most banks require you to report within 30 days but it could vary by bank so check beforehand. If you do so past then, you may be on the hook.
- Change your passwords often, especially if you suspect suspicious activity.
- Never write down passwords and shred documents that contact personal information such as name, address, and social insurance number (SIN).
- Set up security alerts such as withdrawal alerts, debit alerts, balance alerts
- Thinking of renting a cottage in Muskoka from an ad? Before you send a payment, make sure to check that it's a legitimate property. Fake offers and pictures may look like the real thing, but you don't want a shocking surprise when you arrive at a vacation property that doesn't exist. Look for sites like Airbnb, Vrbo, Marriott home & villa rentals and other companies that have vetted vendors. They have guidelines for getting your money back, if you don't receive what you've been promised.
- When purchasing concert tickets online, look for reputable resellers and again, use your credit or debit card for extra protection. Hint: you can check to see if the tickets are real by contacting the venue ticket office.
Be safe and enjoy your next holiday
Boudreau adds: “All Canadian consumers can access their [credit history], request updates, and add or modify a potential fraud warning online, free of charge, at ocs.transunion.ca."