Top 5 vacation spots targeted by online booking scams: report

By Personal FinanceFOXBusiness

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As vacation planning is underway, a new survey has revealed the top five destinations that are likely to be targeted by hackers using malicious websites for online booking.

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The survey, conducted by security company McAfee and released Tuesday, found that 18 percent of consumers were scammed or came close to being scammed when they booked a vacation online.

According to the survey of 1,000 Americans, 30 percent of those victims were deceived “after spotting a deal that was too good to be true.”

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About 30 percent of victims reported losing between $1,000 to $3,000 and about 13 percent reported they had their identity stolen after sharing their passport details to hackers during the booking process.

“The last thing that consumers should have to deal with during or after a vacation is an identity scam or personal privacy issue,” Gary Davis, McAfee’s chief consumer security evangelist said in a statement. “While cybersecurity threats, unfortunately, exist during most stages of the booking and travel experience, consumers can take proactive steps to protect themselves and minimize the risk to ensure scams and other nefarious activities don’t spoil summer travel plans.”

To find the top five vacation destinations likely to be targeted by hackers, McAfee determined the number of “risky websites generated by searches,” according to the statement.

“An overall risk percentage was calculated for each destination using the total number of risky websites divided by the number of search results returned. ‘Riskiest vacation destination’ really means that these destinations are likely popular search subjects,” the statement said.

Here are the top five summer spots likely to be targeted, according to McAfee:

1. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

2. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

3. Amsterdam, Netherlands

4. Venice, Italy

5. Canmore, Canada

In May, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) shared tips on how to ensure your vacation is “scam-free.”

In a blog post, the commission highlighted the need for research ahead of the planned trip, recommending a careful examination of travel specifics. They suggested seeking out references from trusted people on lodging accommodations, as well as travel agencies and packages “before responding to offers.”

“Look up travel companies, hotels, rentals and agents with the words ‘scam,’ ‘review,’ or ‘complaint,’” they added.

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The agency’s follow-up points warned travelers not to “pay for ‘prize vacations’” and to refrain from signing documents until the deal specifics are clear.

Credit card usage for travel expenses was also suggested, the FTC said, adding that it offered “more protection than paying by cash or debit card.”

Fox Business’ Elizabeth Zwirz contributed to this report.