I know what you’re thinking: You’re so fed up with this winter weather that you’ve finally planned a tropical vacation — a cruise, a beach, or maybe both. Before you pack the swimsuit and tanning lotion, get up to speed on the latest tricks used by scammers to part you from your money.
After a long, exhausting day of sightseeing, you might be tempted to stay in your hotel room and have a pizza delivered. In Orlando, scammers were putting fliers on tourists’ car windows, or slipping them under hotel room doors, with deals on a “local” pizza restaurant. But the pizza restaurant was fake, and when the unsuspecting tourists called to place an order and read off their credit card number, the scammers stole their identity.
You should also be careful of sketchy cab drivers who steal your luggage, warns the Las Vegas Police Department. Here’s how the scam works: The cab driver insists on unloading your bags at your hotel or at the airport. He says he’s in a rush, slams the trunk and speeds away. After he’s long gone, you’ll discover that one of your bags is missing. To protect yourself, make sure to note the driver’s name, cab number and company when you enter the cab. Then, if anything should happen, you have some recourse.
In Dallas and Seattle, hotel guests were targeted in a clever identity theft scam. The phone in their room rang in the middle of the night, and the voice on the other end of the phone claimed it was the hotel’s front desk calling. The caller was polite and courteous, but explained that there had been a computer glitch when they’d checked in, and their credit card numbers were lost. If they’d be so kind to re-read their credit card numbers, the hotel would give them a discount on their stay.
Unfortunately, scammers had found a way to bypass the hotel operator and dial rooms directly. If you should receive a call like this, hang up and dial the front desk directly. If there’s a problem with your credit card, go down to the front desk to resolve the problem in person.
Need to do some online banking while you’re on vacation? Be careful of the Wi-Fi network you connect to. Scammers are notorious for creating what appear to be safe Wi-Fi connections at places like airports, convention centers and hotels.
Once you’ve logged in to a scammer’s Wi-Fi connection, he can monitor your online activity and steal your bank account numbers and passwords. If possible, avoid using free, wireless connections, especially to do your banking.
These are just a few of the scams we hear about at the Better Business Bureau, but they may be just the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of other scams that target vacationers before they ever leave their house — like timeshare and vacation rental scams.
Don’t let the dreary Wisconsin weather cloud your judgment when you’re planning your vacation. Check out companies first at wisconsin.bbb.org.