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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > June 2018 > Five Ways to Avoid Scams When Traveling

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Five Ways to Avoid Scams When Traveling

Whether you’re going on a long vacation or just taking a short trip, we’ve outlined ways to avoid scams and protect your identity when you travel. 
1. Beware of rental scams. Vacation rental scams occur when scammers advertise properties that are not actually available to rent. They usually offer below-market rates and ask renters to send a deposit using a wire-transfer or money-order service. After renters send the money, they get nothing in return. To protect yourself from these scams, conduct a web search of a property’s name or address, contact the property manager (using contact information you find outside of the advertisement), and look up online reviews of the property. Consider discussing the offer with a reputable travel agent. If possible, use a credit card for the down payment. Also, beware of people who advertise a property on a rental website, such as Airbnb or VRBO, but then ask you to pay them outside of the website; you will lose any guarantees the website offers by doing that. 
2. Research your destination. Do some research about the place you’re planning to visit. Check travel alerts and warnings from the U.S. State Department. Learn about a hotel’s policies and security systems. Review complaints and information shared by previous travelers. Once you’ve arrived in a new place, use your phone’s GPS to monitor your taxis or rideshares so that they do not make loops to increase your drive time or the amount you owe.
3. Don’t overshare on social media. While you’re on vacation, limit what you post on social media. Don’t tip off criminals by sharing too much information about where you are (or letting them know that your home is vacant). Post those great pictures when you get home.
4. Guard your belongings. Do not leave expensive jewelry, electronics, money, passports, or other valuables unattended in your hotel room or by the pool. Ask about in-room safes upon arrival. Buy mini suitcase locks for the zippers on your purse or bag so they can’t be easily pick-pocketed. If you plan to use the same locks for your checked baggage, make sure the locks are approved by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Be wary of strangers offering to take a picture of your group with your phone. Once they have your phone, they could run off with it. 
5. Have backups. Take photos of important documents like your passport, plane tickets, and driver’s license or state identification card. Store them where you can access this data in the event your belongings are lost or stolen. Also consider downloading a “locator” app to help you trace your phone, tablet, or other device if it’s lost or stolen. Some apps include features to remotely lock a device and/or wipe out all the information on the device.
Consumers who suspect a scam or an unfair business practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or 800-282-0515.