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3 scams targeting travelers

Cybercriminals are preying on summertime travelers before they book a dream vacation. These red flags can help you avoid becoming a victim.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Summer vacation season is here but criminals are also looking for new victims to take advantage of online. 

While many people are looking for a relaxing getaway this summer, the reality is hackers never take a vacation. That's why it's important to know how to spot their tricks before you become a victim. Here are three scams targeting travelers this summer, according to Consumer Affairs:

1. Free Wi-Fi

Scammers can easily create networks with seemingly legitimate names, like "Airport_wifi_terminal_guest1" that trick users into joining. When you connect to these unsecured networks, your personal information can be stolen. 

The fix? Make sure your phone or laptop's Wi-Fi settings don't automatically connect to unknown networks. When in doubt, avoid using internet networks you can't verify are legit. 

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2. USB cords

What looks like your typical USB cord might actually be a scammer's way to infect your device with malware. These devices will compromise your phone the moment your phone is plugged in, Consumer Affairs reports. 

The fix? Only use cords and USB ports that are yours. Never trust something that looks like it was left behind by someone else. It could be a trap. 

3. Smishing

This scam's nothing new, it's just been updated to target summertime travelers. Instead of receiving a text message about a delayed package, you'll now be notified about your flight being delayed or another travel-related issue. These sketchy messages will include a link for your to remedy the situation, but they aren't legit. They're all a hoax to steal your personal information. 

The fix? Even if the message looks real, think before you act. Go directly to the source. If you are concerned about a flight, check with the airline. If your hotel room is in question, contact the property directly. Never click a link from an unknown source. 

Contact Carolyn Bruck at cbruck@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Tips to avoid being the victim of a scam

  • Emotional appeal
    Any pitch that ratchets up your emotion will inhibit your rational judgment. 

  • Sense of urgency
    You MUST act now, or else. 

  • Request for unorthodox payment
    Gift cards, prepaid credit cards, wire transfers, etc. 

  • Explanations that don't ring true
    If your new “landlord” can’t show you the inside of the house, that could be because they don’t own it. 

  • You won, now pay up
    It’s not a prize if you have to pay for it. Taxes, fees, shipping, whatever. 

  • Too good to be true
    That’s because it’s not true. Sorry, your long-lost relative didn’t die, leaving you millions. That car you bought online for a third of its Kelley Blue Book value doesn’t really exist. The son of a billionaire diamond broker didn’t “swipe right” on you and fall instantly in love. That work-at-home job paying you hundreds of dollars an hour for stuffing envelopes isn’t real. 

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