Protect yourself from travel scammers

Protect yourself from travel scammers

Chloe D’Agostini was in a coworking cafe while living abroad when someone walked in, sat down next to her and discreetly stole her wallet from her bag.

Posted yesterday at 2:14 pm

Leah Golob
the canadian press

The 30-year-old woman from Toronto says she didn’t realize her wallet was missing until 20 minutes later, when she was packing her bag to meet a friend for dinner. Security camera footage from the café later confirmed the robbery.

Within 30 minutes, thousands of dollars had accumulated on various credit cards.

METERme D’Agostini then received a phone call from someone claiming to be from Apple telling her that they had noticed suspicious activity with her Apple ID and asking if she could download some software so they could help her. After a few minutes, m.me D’Agostini thought the call was suspicious and hung up. Later, he called Apple, who explained that they don’t call without an appointment.

While theft and fraud happen everywhere, experiencing it while traveling means those affected may spend more time on the phone than sunbathing on the beach, and it’s not possible to go to your bank branch to solve the problem in person. In other cases, it’s possible to get caught up in an online travel scam before you even take off.

In TransUnion’s latest Fraud Report released in May, data shows that travel saw a 59.9% growth in digital fraud attempts for transactions originating in Canada and 13.3% globally.

The rise in digital fraud in this area can be attributed to the economy turning to pre-pandemic levels, particularly in the travel industry.

“Canadians have started to feel more comfortable with the idea of ​​traveling again. Fraudsters have understood this and have turned their attention to the peak of activity in this sector,” explains Ted Trush, Director of Solutions Consulting at TransUnion Canada.

Examples of digital fraud in this industry include consumers traveling and having their credit card stolen in an attempt to make fraudulent charges. Digital travel fraud also affects consumers directly on the web or on their mobile, for example when they come across fake travel agents or fake hotel websites.

“Essentially, scammers move to where the money is. For example, mobile app traffic has grown steadily over the last decade, so scammers tend to focus their attention there. When chip and PIN were introduced to credit cards, fraudsters turned to online transactions because they were less secure,” adds Mr. Trush.

He advises traveling Canadians to make sure they only provide banking information to legitimate companies and websites.

Trush also advises consumers to read review sites for other customer comments or complaints, as well as research flight or accommodation prices for anomalies such as implausible discounts.

“Consumers are also encouraged to be aware of emails that seem inconsistent, as phishing attacks continue to be reported more frequently when it comes to scammers obtaining private and personal information,” it specifies.

Caval Olson-Lepage, a team leader at Affinity Credit Union, adds that every time you receive an email or text, you should ask yourself, “Do I expect this? And is it from a legitimate source? »

“I would be very careful before clicking on links in an email. I’d rather go to the legitimate website and search for this information,” she says.

Apple would not rule on the specific case of Mme D’Agostini, but the company’s website includes a warning about unexpected messages or requests for personal information: “It’s safest to assume this is a scam and if so, contact the company directly.”

METERme Olson-Lepage also warns against using public Wi-Fi during financial transactions, which could happen more when someone is traveling than when they’re at home or work. She recommends setting up a virtual private network (VPN) before you travel to hide your online activity. Another option is to buy an international data plan from your provider to avoid using wi-fi.

When someone thinks they’ve been scammed or their information has been compromised, Mme Olson-Lepage advises contacting your financial institutions immediately.

Mr. Trush adds that TransUnion offers customers the option of adding a potential or confirmed fraud warning to their credit report.

“This alerts creditors to take additional steps to verify your identity before deciding to extend credit and provides the creditor with a contact phone number,” he explains.

although mme D’Agostini was able to send his credit cards, a new RBC debit card had to be sent by regular mail. The card took three months to arrive and Mme D’Agostini says there was no follow-up.

“Things like this are stressful when you’re under pressure and need access to money,” says the Torontonian.

He said calling the bank was also frustrating due to long wait times.

An RBC spokesperson says that once a new card is applied for, RBC processes the application and the card is sent via Canada Post. Processing time is usually the next business day, but delivery depends on Canada Post.

METERme D’Agostini was not held responsible for any of the fraudulent charges.

His advice is to avoid carrying multiple credit cards in your wallet so that all of your accounts are not blocked if your wallet is lost.


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