Holiday Makers' Safety 

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With apologies to the Scarlet Pimpernel and Baroness Orczy, "They seem to be here, They seem to be there, There seem to be everywhere, Those damned and annoying devilish scammers."

Being a prospective victim of scammers when hard at work or resting in the comfort of your home, relaxing in the evening, is bad enough but you might reasonably expect a break when on holiday.  However scammers like holidays, probably even more than you, as it gives them an ideal situation for plying their nefarious trade as can be seen from recent research conducted on behalf of McAfee.

The survey was conducted with 2,000 Brits as the resource source.  This research revealed that the top five holiday destinations of Malaga Spain,  Florida America, Peyia Cyprus, Lagos Portugal and Marbella Spain were ripe breeding grounds and delivered the riskiest search results when holiday makers were planning to book a vacation.  In some cases it could be argued that the sun and leisure seekers were doing their best to help the scammers draw them into their web of deceit and money grabbing opportunities.

While holiday locations are doing their best to attract holiday makers, scammers are doing their worst to mark your vacation with the stigma of providing a large financial contribution to their living expenses.  Over a quarter of those surveyed, approximately 27%, admitted that they had not checked the authenticity of a holiday website before attempting to make a booking online for a relaxing break.  Some of these trusting holiday makers were obviously lucky because just 23% of them fell victim to a holiday fraud as they opted for a break that turned out to be too good to be true with many not finding out the truth until they arrived at their destination to discover their paid-for booking was not valid.

Lets take a short break for a moment and offer some advice from an expert.  Putting on his Advice Offering Hat, Raj Samani, Chief Scientist and McAfee fellow stated "We strongly advise people to validate deals, holiday rentals and flights directly via trusted brands' websites instead of clicking on links and pop-ups offering bargains.  Once they've validated its authenticity all communication and payment should be conducted via that trusted platform to help keep personal and financial information out of hackers' hands."

Dangling a tempting offer before bargain-hunting Brits is an obvious recipe for scamming success as 27% of those questioned, revealing that they were guilty of leaving the door open for fraud by not checking the authenticity of a website before making a booking.  The thrill of making a booking was the reason given by some for not checking authenticity issues.  Those falling victim to a holiday scam reported a loss of between £1,000 and £3,000 as a result of fraudulent activity, so filling the pockets of hand-rubbing scammers who are only too keen to oblige by accepting willing donations, especially those booking holidays through unsolicited email promotions and pop-up ads.

While many scamming activities can take place prior to the holiday departure. this does not mean there is safety once arrival has been made and the traveller has settled in.  Scammers are more than likely to be agreeable to accompany the traveller on their break.  Instead of a hotel or booking representative waiting to greet the traveller, a friendly and helpful scammer will be on hand to fulfil HIS (not yours) every desire.

Even on holiday many can not resist the urge to venture online and communicate with the world at large, scammers included.  Despite around 38% of British holiday makers questioned offering the view that their personal information to be less secure when on holiday than when at their home base, 45% said they either did not bother to check that they were using a secure Internet connection or would willingly connect to an unsecured network.  The time spent on these connected devices would take up more than an hour for 43% of those surveyed.  This would surely give scammers more than enough opportunity to get under the victim's skin. 

What is even more worrying is that some holiday makers are using their wide-open connections for communicating data-sensitive activity such as the sending and receipt of emails plus the management of money transactions through a banking app.  This would be bad enough with personal devices but what about those risk-takers who insist on using a work device with possible connections to a corporate cloud, email and productivity services giving a possible open gateway for a hacker.  Of those questioned 64% admitted that they connected to a public Wi-Fi located at an airport while 49% made use of the hotel's public Wi-Fi.

In conclusion McAfee offers advice as to how to avoid the holiday pitfalls.  You need to be on the look out for the tick that identifies a site as having McAfee safe status before venturing further.  You should make all your payments via a trusted platform and always connect with caution using a VPN when using a public Wi-Fi connection.

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