Avoiding Phone Scams While On Vacation

travel scams
Few technological wonders have made life and communication easier than the cell phone. So long as one is within a good calling range, you can contact anybody, anytime, while traveling. Having a cell phone is especially handy in emergencies, should your car break down or should you get lost in an unfamiliar place. People without cell phones have the convenience of using pre-paid calling cards, so as not to worry about long distance phone bills. Just enter a passcode and talking to anybody you wish.Due to their ease of use, such items have become the target of thieves.

Phone Card Fraud

While one might not think there is much benefit to stealing a simple phone card, people are finding a way to make money from stolen authorization codes. Whether you are using a card for which there is a monthly bill or a pre-paid card, once a thief has the pass code he can make calls or engage in illegal “call-sell” operations, selling long distance time to others and pocketing the profits.

How does a thief obtain an authorization code? Think about the last time you used a phone in a public place. You might have been at the airport, bus station, or your hotel. Maybe you used a pay phone or your cell, and maybe you didn’t notice the possibility that you were being watched. Thieves are becoming craftier in their surveillance skills; if one doesn’t linger around the pay phone, pretending to wait to use it, one just might be watching you with binoculars or a zoom lens, taking note of the numbers you punch into the phone. You probably wouldn’t know until the end of the month, if you are using a billed card, and find a list of calls you didn’t make.

Always be alert when making a phone call in public. Shield the phone’s keypad from sight, and keep any calling cards close. Better yet, if you can memorize your authorization code, do so. If you have to speak your code into the phone, keep your voice low and out of others’ earshot. If you have a cell phone, program any code numbers into your speed dialing system.

Phone Travel Scams

It’s early in the morning, and you’re snoozing in your hotel bed when the phone rings. The clerk at the front desk claims there is an authorization problem with your credit cards, perhaps their number is wrong. Could you give him your credit card number for confirmation? Without thinking, you do and go back to sleep, annoyed by this inconvenience on the hotel’s part.

What you might not realize is that you could be further inconvenienced by a whopping credit card bill.

We are hearing more and more about this particular scam targeted at travelers. A room is picked at random and the traveler tricked into surrendering valuable information, allowing the thief control of your identity. Assuming you spend minimal time dealing with hotel staff, you aren’t going to know the voice of the day clerk, so you don’t think much of it. It’s an easy trap, but it can be avoided. Never volunteer any personal information over the phone while away – no name, credit card numbers, anything. If you feel the call is suspicious, hang up immediately and go down to the front desk to confirm if any calls were made by them to your room. Always best to be safe.

Cell Phone Safety

As cell phones get smaller and smaller with the new technology, it’s a wonder we don’t lose them more often! Yet, it still happens, and it is important to immediately report a lost or stolen phone to your service carrier as soon as possible to avoid incurring fraudulant charges. With travelers, too, came the problem of cell phone “cloning” fraud – this occurs when a thief gets a hold of a specific cell phone’s signal and duplicates it into another phone. The thief’s phone is then recognized as your phone, allowing the thief to make illegals calls on your bill. As the major wireless companies are taking counteractive measures against this type of theft, cloning fraud should not be the problem it used to be; nonetheless, it is always suggested to consult with your wireless company about fraud.

Vigilance and proper use of your phone and phone cards can prevent theft while away from home.