Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

March 27, 2014

Attorney General Kane warns of popular travel scams as summer vacation season approaches

HARRISBURG - Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane today cautioned consumers planning summer vacations to be wary of popular travel scams.

"Scammers are always adjusting their tactics and looking for new ways to lure victims," Attorney General Kane said. "Whether you've been vacationing at the same destination for 20 years or are planning an adventure in a foreign city, educate yourself so that you don't become the next victim."

One of the newer scams targeting travelers is often called the "Pizza Scam" because pizza delivery menus, conveniently slipped under a hotel room door, often contain a telephone number that is not connected to a pizza parlor, but rather to identity thieves. The Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection recommends that any time consumers order take-out from a hotel room they check with the concierge or front desk for a list of suggestions.

Consumer protection agents also cautioned consumers about an increase in "where is my bag" scams, which involve a cab driver, who insists on unloading luggage at your hotel or the airport. The cabbie then tells the passenger that he is in a rush, slams the trunk and speeds away. It is only later that travelers notice one of their bags is missing. Be aware of your surroundings at all times and take note of the driver's name, cab number and cab company when you get in.

In a world where traveling with hi-tech devices is the norm, consumers are encouraged to be wary of free Wi-Fi hotspots. While these areas provide great opportunity to log on and check emails or do last-minute banking before catching a flight, scammers can give Wi-Fi hotspots a similar or identical name to a hotel or coffee shop's actual hotspot and wait for people to log on. From there, anything the unsuspecting user does, such as access a bank account or check a credit card balance, is easily spied upon.

Consumers should limit their access to bank accounts or credit card accounts when using free Wi-Fi as scammers will also keep track of usernames and passwords in order to access information at a later date.

Attorney General Kane also warned consumers to never give out their credit card information over the phone - whether traveling or at home. If the phone in your hotel room rings in the middle of the night and the caller claims to be from the front desk asking you to verify your information because of a computer glitch, hang up and contact the front desk directly.

Consumers who believe that they may have been a victim of travel or other related scams are encouraged to file a complaint with the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection by calling 1-800-441-2555 or visiting www.attorneygeneral.gov.

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