Raise your hand if this sounds familiar: “I’m writing this with tears in my eyes. I came down here to Spain for a short vacation and I got robbed at gun point….I need urgent help.”
That’s right, this one is fast becoming one of the most common travel scams out there, with would-be criminals hacking into people’s emails and hoping to prey on their friends’ acts of kindness. In fact, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center has about 150,000 “stranded traveler” complaints on file.
Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast way to avoid this kind of scam, other than making your password hard to crack. My advice: Instead of picking a word, think of a phrase that makes sense to you, and use the first letters of each word. Make sure to mix it up with lower case and capital letters as well as numbers.
If you receive one of those emails, don’t hit reply. Instead, try to contact a friend or family member who can verify whether that person really is traveling. And if someone calls you up with a similar story, ask questions that an impersonator couldn’t know.
If you do become the victim of this kind of attack, report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center‘s website with as much information as you can provide.
For more information, visit the Safety and Security Archives.
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