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How to Avoid Online Travel Scams
June 06, 2019
Booking tickets online has revolutionized the travel industry. In fact, Eighty-two percent of travel bookings in 2018 were completed via a website or mobile app, without human interaction. (Source: TrekkSoft)
But what does that mean for our online safety? How can you avoid losing your personal information? To ensure the best safety when booking a flight online, keep reading our guide on How to Avoid Online Travel Scams.
Ensure You Have Read the Fine Print
Before making any purchase or commitment, regardless of the site, ensure you have read the fine print. This can help you understand who exactly you are dealing with, what your tickets include and if the company you are buying from is legitimate. If you are unsure of the legitimacy of the site, try using online reviews to get a better understanding of past experiences.
Check the Refund or Exchange Policy
This goes with reading the fine print, understand the refund or exchange policy of your online booking. If something unforeseeable occurs and you are unable to cancel your trip, or must pay a hefty fee – it can set you back. Also, consider getting trip cancellation insurance to help cover non-refundable pre-paid travel costs if an unforeseen risk occurs.
Do the Hotel and Airline Know You are Coming?
Third-party sites often claim they have booked your travels for you. But travellers have had nightmare experiences when they arrive at their hotel to discover there is no room for them. Check with the airline or hotel directly, before you head to the airport, to confirm travel plans.
Know the Currency Exchanges
Sometimes the price may seem too good to be true. Chances are, it’s because you are looking at the prices in a different currency. Make sure you check what currency you are purchasing the ticket in and note how that can affect you when exchange rates come into play.
Don’t Trust Fake Facebook/Social Pages
Fake companies will create official-looking Facebook/social media pages and offer promotions or free ticket giveaways. These promises are a scam and used only as a method only to collect your personal information.
To avoid these scams, ideally, don’t purchase flights or travel vouchers on Facebook if you do not personally know the seller. And, consider reporting these pages to help other Facebook users avoid scams.
Be Careful of Fake Credit Scams
These are like Facebook scams but are available on any platform. (i.e. Kijiji, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, etc.) People will often ‘sell’ credits to an airline company to you at a discounted rate. However, these credits have been purchased on stolen credit cards, or do not exist. So, when you go to redeem them with the airline – they will be invalid.
To avoid these online travel scams, Google the company before using their page. Read over reviews and look to see if they have other channels (such as a website and social pages) to ensure the viability of the company. But typically, reputable companies will not advertise on platforms such as Kijiji and Craiglist. Also, remember to only make purchases on websites that begin with an https://. This means the site is secured and reduces your risk of losing personal information.
When in Doubt, Book Direct
If you are concerned about the legitimacy or security of the third-party travel site you are booking from, book directly with the airline. While you should always read the fine print, be cautious of the currency and know your return policy, booking directly can ensure peace of mind.
If you prefer to compare a wide range of flights, you can still use trusted search aggregators such as Google Flights. But, when you go to select purchase options – choose direct.
Ultimately, whether you use Expedia or Kayak, Air Canada or Air Asia, you should always be cautious when booking online – and the fact that you are reading this blog shows you are. As long as you practice caution and go with reputable companies, booking online travels should be a breeze.
For extra security, make sure you are protected before and during your travels by getting travel insurance.
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