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Summertime Scams are Coming in Hot

Young woman traveling in an airport

Temperatures are rising, and summer fun is right around the corner. But that’s not the only thing heating up. Scammers know that vacation season places people in unfamiliar locations and has them looking for ways to save money and more – providing ample opportunities to enrich themselves.

Amid the excitement of your summer plans, remember to stay vigilant about protecting yourself and your finances. Whether you're globetrotting this summer, coming home from college to work and relax, or planning an epic staycation, here’s a glimpse at some of the more common summertime scams – and ways to keep you and your money safe.

Travel Scams
While travel provides plenty of opportunities for swindlers to target tourists, you’ll be one step ahead. By familiarizing yourself with these common scams and their red flags, you can take control of your safety and ensure a scam-free journey.

  • Free Vacations:

    These scams begin with a phone call, email, or text stating that you’ve won a free vacation. If you respond, you'll quickly discover that "free" isn't free—you'll have to pay fees and taxes before you can claim your prize. Remember, you can't win a contest you never entered, and a legitimate company won't require you to pay hefty fees to claim a free prize.

  • Rental Scams:

    Many websites are available to book a rental home for your upcoming vacation. Scammers are criminals of opportunity, so they’ve begun to create listings for places that aren't available for rent, or they hijack legitimate rentals and list them as their own. The property ends up double booked, leaving no place to stay, and your money is gone. Make sure you only make reservations on reputable websites from verified listers.

  • Ride-Hailing Cheats:

    Some taxi drivers will prey on tourists and overcharge travelers who don’t know better. If you plan on taking a taxi during your stay, ask the hotel staff or your rental owner how much a ride should typically cost. Even if you plan to use ride-hailing services like Uber or Lyft, there are still safety precautions you need to take. Ensure you’re getting into the right car by matching the make and model, license plate number, driver name, and photo with the information within the app. You can also ask the driver to confirm who they are picking up before getting into the car to ensure it’s the right vehicle.

  • Free “Gifts”:

    In some places, a local may approach you, place a bracelet, necklace, hat, or other item on you, hand you a flower, or give some other token and claim it is a gift. Then, they demand money for the item once you have it on you or in your hand. When you refuse, they start to make a scene. They do this hoping you will give them money instead of being embarrassed by the situation. Don’t take anything from anyone or accept anything for free. Give the item back to them and walk away.

  • Pickpockets:

    This crime has many variations, but the theme remains the same. Someone approaches you and engages you in conversation; all the while, someone else behind the scenes is picking your pocket and making off with your wallet before you have a chance to realize what’s going on. They may spill something on you, claim you have something on your shoe, tell you that you dropped some money or other item, or use some other distraction tactic. Be aware of anyone getting too close, bumping into you, or approaching you unwarranted. You're likely better off ignoring anyone who attempts to approach you.

Job Scams
For students returning home for the summer or long-term travelers seeking to immerse themselves in their new locale, seasonal job opportunities can be a great way to supplement income. But beware of summer job scams, and watch out for these common warning signs.

  • Vague job descriptions.
  • Promises of high earnings with little to no experience required.
  • Upfront fees for equipment, software, or training.
  • Guaranteed or immediate hiring with no interview process.
  • They only pay through payment services like CashApp or Venmo.
  • They only communicate through messaging services like WhatsApp.

Tips for Traveling with Cash
No matter where your summer travels take you, avoid handling large amounts of cash. This behavior will attract unwanted attention and make you a prime target for thieves. Instead, follow these tips to stay safe on your vacation.

  • Keep Cash Small:

    Only carry a small amount of money on you at a time and limit it to smaller bills. Keep some of your cash secure, such as your hotel safe.

  • Locate a Safe ATM:

    If you need to access an ATM while traveling, try to use one at a reputable financial institution or business rather than a standalone machine. Look for ATMs in a well-lit, high-traffic location so you and bystanders are more likely to notice anything suspicious.

  • Choose Cards Over Cash:

    If you don't need cash specifically for anything during your trip, consider limiting your wallet to just cards. This will reduce your risk of theft by eliminating the possibility of being seen handling money.

Stay Safe with Debit & Credit Cards
Relying on debit or credit cards is much safer than carrying cash, especially in unfamiliar places like traveling abroad. However, you can take extra precautions to ensure your vacation isn’t ruined if your wallet is lost or stolen.

  • Minimize Risk:

    Limit the number of cards you carry at a time. Only bring some cards in your wallet. Instead, keep one card in your wallet and store the others in a secure place, such as your hotel safe.

  • Bring Backups:

    You can also carry a second card in a different location (like a bag or hidden pocket) as an extra precaution in case your wallet is lost or stolen or if your other card has a problem.

  • Enable Alerts:

    Set up alerts for your card transactions. If your card is lost or stolen, your financial institution will notify you of any unauthorized charges, and you can take immediate action to rectify the situation and mitigate potential losses.

  • Watch Out for Card Skimmers:

    Carefully inspect ATMs before using them to ensure nothing is unusual, such as a card skimmer, visible camera, or other suspicious device. If it appears the ATM has been tampered with in any way, like the card reader is misaligned or any parts or components are loose or missing, choose another one in a different location.

CAMPUS Can Help!
Vacation season is upon us, and we want to ensure you have a fun and memorable experience. With some planning and extra precautions, you can enjoy your vacation and keep your money safe.

Please let us know if you plan to travel outside the country this summer. This step will ensure none of your transactions are blocked due to suspected fraud. If you believe you were a victim of a scam, we’re here to help. Please get in touch with us immediately by visiting any of our service center locations or calling 800-367-6440.

By CAMPUS USA at 3 Jun 2024, 00:00 AM

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