Today I begin a four-part series on travel safety to protect your identity before during and after your trip. I’ve tried to make this series comprehensive for all stages of travel. Today we’ll cover Planning Your Trip , to be followed in days to come by: Before You Go, On the Road and When You Return.
While you may be aware of the basics, the lists in these blogs show you how to think like the criminals think. Be proactive and outwit them at their own game!
Use a legitimate agency: Verify the business you are booking your trip through. If you are going to use a travel agency or online booking company, make sure they are authentic first. Go online and do your research – if people have been swindled before by the company, the Internet is the first place they will go to vent. You can even ask the company for references so you can check up on some satisfied customers. Also, investigate the travel companies with the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) and the attorney general’s office in the state where the company does business. (www.naag.org).
Read everything carefully before you sign: Sometimes there are concealed fees or clauses where they can change the airport you are flying into or out of without telling you – even up to 100 miles away! Make sure you know the airline and hotel before signing. This way you can confirm their legitimacy. Feel free to contact them and make sure that this is a great deal.
Always pay with a credit card: Reputable credit card companies allow you to dispute fraudulent charges so that you are not held liable for the money. If the company requires you to pay with cash or check or money order, GO SOMEPLACE ELSE! Legitimate travel companies will let you use a credit card.
Make sure you get EVERYTHING in writing: If your unbelievable deal does turn out to be a rip-off, you will need something to show the credit card company in order to dispute the charges.
If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is: If they are offering you a flight to Mexico that is regularly $500 for $100, then chances are, it’s a scam. While there are great ways to book your hotel + flight + food + drink together to save money, most don’t offer an 80% discount! Don’t be afraid to try a website like TripAdvisor.com to do some background investigation.
Buy directly from the companies themselves: This includes airline, hotel, transportation, tickets, etc. Many times the actual companies promise the cheapest possible fare on their own website (United does this, for example). Even if it does cost you a bit more, you will sleep better at night knowing that your trip is booked and confirmed.
John Sileo is an an award-winning author and keynote speaker on identity theft, internet privacy, fraud training & technology defense. John specializes in making security entertaining, so that it works. John is CEO of The Sileo Group, whose clients include the Pentagon, Visa, Homeland Security & Pfizer. John’s body of work includes appearances on 60 Minutes, Rachael Ray, Anderson Cooper & Fox Business. Contact him directly on 800.258.8076.