Beware of taxi scams when travelling, or both you and your wallet could be taken for a ride. Photo: CEFICEFI.

Scammers can make for not-so-happy holidays

Going on vacation? Take steps to avoid getting taken for a ride.

Summer is here, and that means people are hitting the road or jetting away. The Better Business Bureau wants people to be aware that travel scams are among the riskiest out there.

“Travel scams run the gamut,” says Evan Kelly, senior communications advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC. “From thieves picking your pockets to airline deals that are too good to be true, there are plenty of ways to lose your money and personal information if you aren’t careful.”

The holiday rental scam: With websites like AirBnB hugely popular, BBB warns travellers that these sites are often used by scammers who set up fake profiles and steal images and information from other websites. Never wire money to people you’ve never met, and only pay through the security of the website. Check multiple rental sources to make sure the location is legit.

The taxi scam: One of the most common scams in other countries is the broken taxi meter scam. The unscrupulous cabbie says the meter is broken, and you end up getting charged a ridiculous price. If you can, negotiate a rate before you accept a ride. Also, make sure the meter is working. If they tell you it’s cheaper without the meter, you might want to find a new cab.

Free Wi-Fi hubs: Travellers may want to login to a free Wi-Fi hotspot to avoid roaming charges. Don’t just login to any old Wi-Fi, as hackers may be the ones who have set it up in order to hack into your phone or laptop and steal passwords and other information. If possible, stick with the Wi-Fi that may be on offer at your hotel.

The fake hotel confirmation call: This one has been showing up over the past couple of years. You’re at a hotel and get a call from someone claiming to be at the front desk, and they ask you to re-confirm your credit card details. It seems legit, right? However, it’s not the front desk calling. Scammers have called the hotel and asked for your room. They plan to make a copy of your card and drain your account. If you have any concerns about the caller on the other end of the phone, politely hang up and go down to the front desk yourself.

Fake tourist attraction tickets: Social media is flooded with offers for a wide range of tickets from sites such as Groupon. However, scammers like to profit from the success of legitimate sites. A site going by the URL of was caught selling fake and discounted tickets online. Not only do tourists get scammed with fake goods, their credit card information is now in the wrong hands. Shop on legitimate websites or buy directly from the venue(s).

Other helpful travel tips:

* Wait to post on social media. Giving too much detail about when you will be away, and your home will be empty, could attract thieves.

* Check your home insurance. If your home will be unattended while you are away, make sure you know your responsibilities under your home insurance policy.

* Share a copy of your itinerary with a family member or friend. Include the contact information of someone joining you on your trip.

* Take a map, so that you have a hard copy backup in case of technical difficulties or if you are going through an area with poor cellphone reception.

* Avoid traveling alone. Use the buddy system and stick with your friends.

* Use hotel safes. Store extra cash, and keep any valuables under lock and key.

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