Vacationers should watch out for potential scams

By Susan Salisbury / The Palm Beach Post

Published Jul 27, 2014 at 12:03AM

Vacation. It’s supposed to be a time to kick back and relax, but if you’re traveling, there can be a lot of stress, from finding the best deal when making the hotel reservations, to getting to and waiting at the airport and even checking into your hotel.

Unfortunately, there is never a vacation from scammers, who like to take advantage of travelers.

The Federal Trade Commission warns about a couple of common and ongoing scams.

A call from the hotel’s front desk telling you there is a problem with your credit card and asking you to read them the number over the phone could really be from a scammer. If they hotel really has an issue with your card, they would ask you to come to the front desk.

Be aware that a pizza delivery flyer slipped under your hotel door could be from someone just trying to get your credit card number. When you call to order, they get your information, and no pizza ever arrives. To be safe, get recommendations from the front desk. Many hotels have lists of restaurants in the directory in your room.

Be careful when searching for the hotel’s Wi-Fi network. You could come across one with the hotel’s name that is really a scammer trying to access your information. Check with the hotel to make sure you are using the authorized network before you connect.

When using any public Wi-Fi network, check to see that it is fully encrypted so your personal information is kept secure online. Encryption scrambles the information you sent over the Internet into a code so others cannot see it.

An encrypted website protects only the information you send to and from that site, the FTC says. A secure wireless network encrypts all the information you send using that network.

To determine whether a website is encrypted, look for “https” as the start of the web address. The “s” stands for secure. Some websites use encryption only on the sign-in page, but if any part of your session is not encrypted, your entire account could be vulnerable.

Look for https on every page you visit, not just when you sign in.

Other tips to protect your information when using public Wi-Fi are:

• Don’t stay permanently signed in to accounts. When you’re finished, log out.

• Do not use the same password on different websites.

• If a warning pops up on a web browser saying that a website is fraudulent or contains malicious programs, don’t ignore it.

• Consider changing the settings on your mobile device so that it doesn’t automatically connect to nearby Wi-Fi.

It’s also worth noting that both travel accident insurance and luggage insurance for delayed or lost luggage are very prevalent on rewards credit cards from major issuers, according to CardHub.com.

CardHub says the five best credit cards for travel insurance are Chase Sapphire, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Discover it, Citi Prestige and Wells Fargo Propel.

Credit card travel insurance may provide for the reimbursement of cardholders in the event of a canceled trip, missed connection, lost or delayed luggage, or even death. To read the full report, go to cardhub.com/edu/credit-card-travel-insurance/ .