As the shift to online travel bookings becomes more dominant and permanent, there is an increasing need for travellers to beware while hunting for deals online as many of the deals that appear to be too good to true may just be that. Untrue or a scam. This is the key finding of the latest report about online travel scams released by internet security firm McAfee.
The company says that 56 pc of today’s travellers are more likely to actively go hunting for bargains on travel due to increased cost concerns amid the financial pressures of today’s economic environment. It says that unsurprisingly, online booking is still the order of the day and was shown to be the preferred trip-planning method for 94 pc of travellers in 2023.
Unfortunately, in their desperation to snag a decent deal, global leisure travellers may be much more prone to getting lured in by a deal that’s literally too good to be true, says McAfee.
This means there’s perhaps more opportunity than ever before for cybercriminals to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers who are increasingly willing to take some risks in order when they think theyt can save a buck.
McAfee has released its Safer Summer Holidays report in which it says that more than 1 in 3 or 35 pc of adult American consumers have fallen prey to an online travel booking scam before they have even packed their bags. It says that 60 pc of those victims had up USD 1,000 of their hard-earned dollars stolen from them, while 40 pc ended up losing amounts of USD 1,000 or more to fraudsters.
McAfee says that almost half or 47 pc of survey respondents in McAfee’s study said they are now more likely to seek out deals online, move quickly to snap up a bargain, with 39 pc willing to go through a booking site they have never used before and 37 pc willing to try a destination they have never been to before.
McAfee says that 81 pc of the survey’s global respondents said they have the same level of trust in booking websites as in booking directly with a hotel or airline. It adds that even when booking vacation rentals through well-known websites, 14 pc reported they had either fallen for a scam themselves or knew someone who had. Typically, they were redirected by the booking site to make a payment through another platform to someone whom they thought to be the property owner or manager.
The report adds that 15 pc of all US adults have been tricked into making payments through fraudulent platforms and 22 pc have had their identity stolen while booking online. Of those, 8 pc provided their passport information and 14 pc entered other personal identification information on a fake website.
However, once they actually begin their trip, 63 pc of travellers are more concerned about digital threats than physical ones like pickpocketing. McAfee says that 41 pc of people believe their personal information is less secure when they connect to the internet away from home, but their behaviour often seems to contradict their suspicions.
Significant numbers of Americans take actions that stand to increase their risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime while they are travelling. Hence 27 pc of them connected to an unsecured Wi-Fi network even though it looked a bit suspicious, 31 pc used using a USB charging port at an airport or train station, 20 pc left streaming account logged in after checking out of their accommodations.
And, while 88 pc of Americans reported either “some” or “high” levels of worry about their identities being stolen amid their travels, 42 pc actually admitted to being less vigilant and security conscious while on vacation.
McAfee says that although people may be aware of the dangers, they often don’t take steps to mitigate the risk of cyberattack or identity theft. The study found that 43 pc of Americans don’t use any services to monitor the safety of their online identity, and 40 pc don’t bother to use a VPN while they are away on vacation. Among those that do use VPNs, 22 pc only do so in order gain access to geo-specific streaming content.