Scams to look out for while hunting for deals on Travel Tuesday

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Travel booking sites are rolling out deals on Tuesday, as the day after Cyber Monday increasingly becomes known for flight and hotel discounts. 

While “Travel Tuesday” promises savings on flights, cruises and stays as Americans set their sights on vacations in 2024, scammers are also hatching plans to rip off consumers. 

Fraudsters tend to pounce on shoppers around the holidays, a time when consumers make more purchases in general. Online retailers including Amazon.com say that while criminals never sleep, scammers are more active during this time of year. Generative artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT are adding to the danger by helping bad actors devise more sophisticated scams. 

Here are four travel and events scams to look out for this winter, according to experts. 


Tips for booking your holiday travel to find the best deals

Vacation rental scams

Scammers may create fake travel agencies, or even do a decent job of mimicking trusted sites for booking short-term stays, to dupe consumers into thinking they’re making a reservation with a legitimate business entity. 

The fake agencies will have websites with fake rental properties listed, according to Mike Scheumack, chief innovation officer of identity theft protection company IdentityIQ. Bad actors will trick consumers by requiring them to pay a “rental deposit” in order to secure a booking, before disappearing, Scheumack said. 

Red flags indicating that a booking site isn’t legitimate include payment requests in the form of a gift card or wire transfer, and pressure shoppers to book immediately. Prices that appear too good to be true can be another indicator that a site’s not legitimate. 

“Consumers should be cautious of fake websites and phishing emails and texts that offer travel deals that seem too good to be true. These types of scams can be costly and have a huge impact on your budget,” Scheumack told CBS MoneyWatch.

Deals via text and email

Retailers and service providers typically bombard consumers with promotions during the Cyber Five period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, making it easy for recipients to mistake a fraudulent message for a good travel deal. 

“I would be especially suspicious of travel deals being offered through emails and texts. We all get a lot of deals sent to us between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so it’s easy to let our guard down,” Scheumack said. 

Always check the sender’s email address and verify that the message is actually coming from the company it claims to be from.

“If it’s a Gmail address or the sender is not verifiable, just trash it,” Scheumack added. 

Airline ticketing scams

Airline ticketing scams trick aspiring travelers into paying for tickets that aren’t actually good for travel, or anything for that matter. 

Criminals will create fake flight-booking websites and generate messages offering deals that are hard to pass over. Then they ask consumers for payment information, steal their credit card details and run. 

Always book travel flights through websites you’re familiar with and make sure the site isn’t a fraudulent duplicate of a legitimate site. Don’t click on payment links you weren’t expecting. 

Rideshare scams 

No leg of the journey is completely safe or protected from fraud. Rideshare scams work by sending riders links for bogus charges such as made-up fees for cleaning up a mess they didn’t create, or an alleged cancellation fee for a ride they never ordered. 

Report such solicitations to the rideshare company you use. 

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