How To Spot Fake Travel Websites And Vacation Scams

Eager for a summer getaway? Simply typing “dream-destinations” into a search engine produces hundreds of results. Many of these are real deals, but unfortunately, an equivalent number of scams exist out there as well. We want to make sure you get your stress-free vacation this summer, so keep reading for tips on how to avoid a travel vacation scam!

Here are some popular traps to watch for when booking a vacation:

  • Airline tickets – reports show that customers will purchase an airline ticket that never gets confirmed or shows up as a fake. Watch out for this!
  • Vacation accommodations – not only will scammers create very legitimate-looking fake websites, but they will also create fake listings on reliable sites like AirBnB. You can never be too careful!
  • Sports and religious trips – these scams will bait you with the “limited number of spaces available” bribe.
  • Timeshares and clubs – from fake buyers to all-inclusive memberships, people can be scammed out of thousands of dollars.
An image of someone relaxing on a hammock. Make sure your vacation is relaxing by avoiding these common vacation scams.

Take these precautions to avoid being scammed when planning your next trip:

  • Activate McAfee – while searching for that perfect destination, ensure you have your McAfee Total Protection antivirus active and running at all times for your protection against potential threats. If you don’t have an antivirus we recommend you install one. This is your first line of defense to stop viruses from getting on your computer. Our team uses McAfee Total Protection because it’s award-winning technology we can trust. To check it out click here.
  • Consider an Adblocker – click here to learn which adblocker is right for you.
  • Run a FixMeStick scan – ensure your system is malware-free before and after making your vacation plans run a FixMeStick scan! You can check out the FixMeStick here.
  • Book your vacations using the StartMeStick – the StartMeStick is like brand new every time you use it. When you’re ready to book just plug in the StatMeStick and you’ll have a fast, clean, and private computer to use! Want to learn more about the StartMeStick? Learn more here.

What to watch out for:

  • Pop-up advertisements It’s best not to click on pop-up ads that lead you away from the website you are visiting. Many of these are social engineering and phishing scams. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is!
  • Look out for the “Ad” symbol – When you type a keyword into Google, many hits will appear with results. The top 3-4 listings will likely be advertisements. Check the web address – do you see a small green square with the word “Ad” written inside? If so, this is ad. You can still check it out but just be aware you’re clicking on an advertisement.
  • Do your research – If you’re interested in booking with a company you haven’t used in the past, check to see if there are any reviews. You can reach what others are saying. If users have been scammed, there will likely be evidence of this in the reviews section.
  • Be wary at the checkout – Before you pay, check the URL in the web address bar – does it say http:// or https://? Never enter your payment information into a site that just has http:// – this means it is not secure. Additionally, always pay by credit card to ensure a traceable transaction, this way you can also cancel the charge immediately if you have been scammed. Avoid direct deposits completely, as these open a gateway to your bank account.
  • Read the fine print – this includes invoices, confirmations, travel insurance offers, and cancellation policies to name a few. There could be a loophole you are agreeing to and ultimately allowing a scam. If there is no fine print anywhere at all, this is a sure sign of a scam. We make our privacy policy and refund policy very clear at the bottom of our website – most other legitimate websites will do the same so keep an eye out for them.

If you’re ever unsure, run a FixMeStick scan right away. You can always contact us too. Our team would be happy to help answer any of your questions.