Traveling this summer? Here's how to avoid the most dangerous travel scams.

Summer travelers face an increasing number of travel scams this year, according to an expert from McAfee - Photo by UnSplash +

A recent study found that nearly 30% of Americans have been victims of a travel-related scam

The summer season is heating up and as many consumers are preparing for summer travel, it’s important to steer clear of some of the biggest travel scams that are circulating. 

Abhishek Karnik, head of McAfee’s Threat Research Team, shared with ConsumerAffairs everything consumers need to know about travel scams this summer: the biggest threats for summer travel, the warning signs of a travel-related scam, how to stay safe while booking travel this summer, and more. 

“Our Safer Summer Travel Report shows a troubling trend: over one in four Americans have been impacted by travel scams,” Karnik said. “This occurs as the accessibility and use of AI rises, and as the technology is increasingly used by cybercriminals to increase the scale, effectiveness, and speed of scams. 

“Scammers are opportunists and when there is significant interest in a topic – like summer travel – they move quickly and strategically to lure people in with convincing scam tactics. Now more than ever, a combination of education and technology is needed to help eager travelers avoid falling victim to a scam, so they can focus on what really matters – enjoying their next vacation.”

Knowing the warning signs

According to McAfee’s Safer Summer Travel Report, the threat of a travel scam is prevalent both during the booking process and while on vacation. 

“As AI technologies evolve, so does the sophistication and believability of online scams,” Karnik said. “This trend will likely continue as the rise in AI-generated scams makes it harder than ever to distinguish between legitimate and deceptive offers. This means that it’s crucial for travelers to stay alert and informed. A few warning signs to look out for include:

  1. Be suspicious of anything that is pushed to you and has a sense of urgency. Scammers may solicit you with emails, SMS, advertisements, phone calls, or surveys offering such "incredible" deals or discounts.

  2. Don't believe everything you hear or see. If it’s too good to be true, it's probably a scam.

  3. If you are looking for shopping or travel deals, use trusted vendors. It’s always safer to initiate the search rather than get pulled into an enticing offer, especially from unknown and untrusted sources.

  4. Before purchasing anything from a non-authentic website or social media page, run a Google search to learn more about the company’s reputation and read consumer reviews. If you don’t see anything listed online, it’s most likely a scam.

  5. It’s common for scammers to masquerade fake links behind big names. Look for scammers who try to impersonate a legit website by making slight changes in the name or URL (for example, vs.”

Staying safe during summer vacation

Vacations should be a time of relaxation, fun, and making memories – not for falling victim to a scam or losing money. However, Karnik said that there are ways for consumers to protect themselves from scammers and enjoy their trips. 

“We urge travelers to think twice before clicking on deals that seem too good to be true and to embrace solid security practices,” he said. “When on vacation, stay vigilant of social engineering scams and verify the identity of individuals before sharing sensitive information or handing over personal belongings. 

“Additionally, be cautious when scanning QR codes in public - tampered codes can unknowingly direct you to a scam site. Other easy security best practices include avoiding public Wi-Fi for financial transactions, using online protection technology, and being cautious of unsolicited communications.”

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