Protect yourself from travel scammers

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

Posted at 2:14 p.m

Leah Golob
The Canadian Press

The 30-year-old 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 theft.

Thousands of dollars were accumulated on various credit cards within 30 minutes.

Mme D’Agostini then received a call from someone claiming to be from Apple, stating that she had noticed suspicious activity using her Apple ID and asking if she could download software so they could help her. After a few minutes, D’Agostini found the call suspicious and hung up. She later called Apple, who explained that they don’t call without an appointment.

Theft and scams happen everywhere, but when they’re on the go, victims spend more time on the phone than sunbathing on the beach, and it’s not possible to personally go to their bank branch to solve the problem. In other cases, you may be stuck with an online travel scam before you even take off.

In TransUnion’s latest Fraud Report, released in May, data shows that the number of digital fraud attempts in transactions originating in Canada has increased by 59.9% and by 13.3% globally.

The increase in digital fraud in this space comes as the economy has shifted to pre-pandemic levels, particularly in the travel industry.

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

Examples of digital fraud in this industry include consumers who are traveling and have their credit cards stolen to make fraudulent purchases. Digital travel fraud also affects consumers directly on the internet or on their mobile phones, for example when they come across fake travel agencies or fake hotel websites.

“Essentially, scammers go where the money is. For example, mobile app traffic has grown steadily over the past decade, so scammers tend to pay attention to it. When credit card chips and PINs were introduced, fraudsters turned to online transactions because they were less secure,” adds Mr. Trush.

He advises Canadians traveling to ensure they only provide banking information to legitimate businesses and websites.

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

“Consumers are also urged to be vigilant about emails that seem inappropriate, as phishing attacks continue to be the most frequently reported when it comes to allowing scammers to obtain private and personal information,” he clarifies.

Caval Olson-Lepage, team leader at Affinity Credit Union, adds that every time you receive an email or text message, you should ask yourself, “Is that what I’m expecting?” 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 look for that information,” she says.

Apple wanted the specific case of Mme D’Agostini, but the company’s website includes a warning about unexpected messages or requests for personal information: “It is safest to assume this is a scam and if so, to communicate directly with the company in question”.

Mme Olson-Lepage also warns against using public Wi-Fi for financial transactions, which could happen more often when someone is traveling than when they are at home or at work. She recommends setting up a virtual private network (VPN) before traveling to hide your online activities. Another option is to purchase an international data plan from your provider to avoid using Wi-Fi.

If someone believes they have been scammed or your information has been compromised, Mme Olson-Lepage advises contacting his financial institutions immediately.

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

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

Although Mme D’Agostini was able to have his credit cards shipped, a new RBC debit card had to be mailed. It took three months for the card to arrive and Mme D’Agostini says there was no follow-up.

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

She said calling the bank was also frustrating because of the long wait times.

An RBC spokesman says once a new card is requested, RBC will process the request and the card will be sent via Canada Post. Processing time is typically next business day, however delivery is dependent on Canada Post.

Mme D’Agostini was not held responsible for any of the fraudulent allegations.

His advice is not to carry multiple credit cards in your wallet, lest all of your accounts be blocked if your wallet is lost.

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