VANCOUVER – Canadians can’t wait to get away and thieves can’t wait to take advantage. Online travel sites are playing on Canadians’ desire to book cheap airline tickets or a bargain on a cottage rental this summer.
“If someone offers a vacation rental through social media and asks you to pay with cash or wire transfer, I wouldn’t trust them,” said Tony Anscombe, chief security expert at ESET .
Online fraud has increased during the pandemic, and a new TransUnion survey has found that in the digital world, financial services fraud has increased by 217% and travel and leisure fraud has increased by 49%.
“The rate of attempted fraud is not just about financial services; it’s through different vectors, ”said Anne-Marie Kelly, spokesperson for TransUnion.
You might also have issues when trying to book what appears to be an offer on airline tickets, especially with an online travel agent that you’ve never done business with before.
“We are receiving reports on BBB Scam Tracker that consumers come across these bogus websites,” said Karla Laird, senior director of media and communications for Better Business Bureau Mainland BC.
Similar websites are grafted onto legitimate company names. Even if they have a secure URL and list an actual physical address, it could be fraud.
“Some of them will put in contact information, although it’s not legitimate, but just to give you that look and feel of legitimacy,” Laird explained.
McLaughlin on Your Side has previously exposed this ruse by visiting Vancouver addresses listed by scam websites. The companies did not exist.
The bottom line: Know who you’re dealing with, don’t communicate outside of the rental or booking platform, pay by wire or wire transfer, and beware of pressured sales tactics to get paid now.
Once you’ve made a reservation on a legitimate website and want to make changes, you need to come back to the website to find the right number to call.
Some consumers who did a general online search for customer service numbers landed on fake ones and ended up giving out personal information and money for upgrades or changes they never get, giving their money to thieves.
With files from CTV’s Pat Foran