Don't Let Scammers Ruin Your Summer
After a horrible year for many of us due to the pandemic restrictions, looking forward to some good old Summer fun is at the top of many of our agendas. And while many of us will enjoy a certain amount of normality this Summer, it does mean that we may put ourselves in danger of being victim to some classic summer cyber scam schemes as well as newer cyber crimes. Here, we look at how to enjoy your Summer and relax while not putting yourself in harm’s way by making yourself vulnerable to cybercriminals and their clever ways.
Flight Booking Scams
Given that we can start to travel that little bit more easily again, many of us will be looking to book flights this Summer. However, this does mean that you have to be vigilant against the use of fake websites and apps and be wary of any phishing emails when booking a flight.
Travel companies are often a golden opportunity for scammers, as they can gather both banking details and personal information details. As a result, cybercriminals send out phishing emails with links to fake websites – that may look legitimate – so that customers freely provide all their personal and sensitive information. Think about what you provide when booking a flight. You will populate a form with your name, number, email, address, and perhaps most strikingly, your credit card details. And, you may set all that up with an account with a commonly used password across many other online accounts you use.
VIP and loyalty programs also have several dangers, particularly if you do not secure your account with a high-quality password. Within your loyalty program account, you will have all your information saved. While making booking a flight that much quicker, ask yourself whether the risk is worth the reward? You can still be part of many VIP programs without having all your sensitive information saved there.
Tips to Make your Flight Booking Safer
Travel scams are easy to fall for, but there are some ways to make booking your flight safer. Firstly, if a deal looks too good to be true, it often is. Do not follow links on emails or texts, and try only to use reputable travel agents you know. If you do deal with an unfamiliar firm, make sure you read all reviews you can to make sure they are reputable.
Finally, if you have an account set up with a VIP or loyalty program, ensure that the password to that account is entirely different from any other password. And, make sure it cannot be guessed – even by those closest to you.
While you are on holiday or even at home enjoying the longer evenings out, you may find yourself using more ride-hailing apps than usual. However, there are many scams you should be aware of before calling a cab. These apps are highly susceptible to charging fraudulent fees, sending out phishing emails to reset your password, and fake drivers. With particular respect to the phishing email, you may find that you naively give away sensitive information that a hacker can use for their own means. Your name, address, and credit card details are often all saved on your ride-hailing account – which are all pieces of data used by cybercriminals for their own ill-gotten gain.
Tips to Make Your Ride-Hail Safe
First and foremost, if you get in a taxi offered by the likes of Uber and Lyft, ensure that you confirm your driver’s name and the vehicle license plate before getting in. Additionally, never ever change your password by following a link you have been sent – either by email or text. Instead, go straight to the app itself or the company website to access your account there to change it. Finally, always look at your receipt when your ride is finished and question extra charges immediately.
Hotel Booking Scams
Much like booking flights, if you are sent a deal for a hotel that looks too good to be true, it is possible that it could be a phishing scheme. Scammers will send you a link to a fake website where you transfer your information which then can go on to be used for fraudulent purposes. The same information that is useful to hackers when sending out fraudulent links to flight booking or for ride-hailing apps is asked for when booking a hotel or other forms of accommodation.
Tips to Safely Book Accommodation
Given that a person should never follow a link from an email in case it is a phishing scheme, potential travelers should go directly to a hotel’s website or travel agent. Sites like Airbnb or booking.com are quick to find on the web without following an email link. Doing so means you can be sure you are using a legitimate site and not a fake website that duplicates a company’s branding to look legitimate. Booking accommodation on a credit card instead of a debit card can also make it easier to claim back any funds that may be paid for on your card in a fraudulent way.
When abroad, we often do not have the same access to Wi-Fi networks that we know are secured. Instead, we are far more likely to start using Wi-Fi networks at a hotel we are staying in or at a restaurant or bar we are frequenting. While we all use the internet to use its benefits, using a Wi-Fi network that is public means anyone using that network can access the data we send. Hackers can make use of this entry point to grab people’s sensitive information or passwords. In short, public Wi-Fi is fraught with danger.
Tips to Safely Surf the Web on a Public Wi-Fi
If you do use public Wi-Fi, ensure that you do so with a VPN at the same time. That encrypts your data, meaning that a hacker cannot access what information you are sending online. Additionally, try not to divulge any highly personal information like your financial data or personal identification information if at all possible when using Wi-Fi that is not secured.
Charging Phones on a Public USB Station
Juice jacking is an increasingly popular form of cyberattack by criminals. It is when a public charging port is also a data connection. A user unwittingly connects their phone to the connection, assuming it is simply charging. Instead, a hacker can either use the connection to install malware or copy data from the phone.
Tips to Safely Use Public Ports
The primary way that you can use public ports safely is to lock your phone or, better yet, turn it off. Another good way to ensure your safety is only to use the power cable supply provided with the device and try to use standard electricity supplies instead of USB ports where possible. Using your own battery-powered charging device can also be practical or use a no data charge cable if you make use of unknown power sources a lot. Finally, installing antivirus software on your device is effective, and install updates regularly too.
Moving House Scams
Once home from your holiday, you would usually think that you are safe and not at risk of cybercrime. However, moving home is a widespread occurrence during the Summer months and can leave you susceptible, again, to a cybercrime. In fact, moving home in the Summer is the busiest time for the industry, which criminals know all too well. Criminals present themselves as a legitimate moving or storage company as a way to get hold of your financial information and other personal data.
Tips to Avoid a Moving Scam
The main dos and don’ts when hiring a moving company are to research your potential movers carefully. Read up on them through their customer reviews and complaints online. Ensure that you have seen their proof of license before giving them any payment details or personal information. Additionally, only use them if they have insurance and a proper contract for you to sign. Finally, make a list of your things and do not pay in advance of the move or even make a large deposit. Some firms may then try to charge fees when delivering your goods. Check your contract to ensure you know whether this is in line with your agreement. If you think it is not, you can seek legal advice.
Summer Job Scams
The Summer is when huge amounts of students and high school pupils look for a summer job to earn money. It makes them a big target. Before starting employment, many of us have to give our Social Security number as well as bank details and addresses. It means identity theft is possible by cybercriminals and younger generations are usually far slower to spot it happening.
Steps to Verify a Job Offer and Avoid Being Scammed
Just doing a few simple due diligence calls can help protect you from cybercriminals who are part of a Summer jobs scam. Search the web and call relevant people until you are sure the firm offering you work is legitimate. Ask for advice from friends and family if you have any hesitancies. Their experience or simply their different outlook may help identify a scam. Finally, do not provide any sensitive information about yourself until you are sure the firm is legitimate.
Summer Cyber Scam – Key Takeaways
Summer scams are not always particularly innovative, but the chances and opportunities tend to be greater. For example, more people are booking flights, so more people are looking for flight deals – making them far easier to lure to a fake website. Plus, Summer seems to be a time that we act in a far more carefree and cavalier way in general. It means our guards are down, making us even more vulnerable to attack. That is even more so the case this Summer as so many of us want to kick back and relax after a tough year. However, just by being aware of how scammers can take advantage of you, you are protecting yourself and your family far better than remaining ignorant of the threats around you.