The easing of COVID restrictions combined with the warming months makes travel a tempting venture. If you’re considering a vacation rental, beware of crooks who are after your money and privacy. Tap or click here for some tips on staying safe when booking a rental. A scammer can go “phishing” to lure many potential victims at once or target just one at a time with more elaborate schemes. One victim was recently conned out of thousands of dollars. Read on for details and tips on avoiding these types of scams.

Phony fraud alert

The Los Angeles Times reports a woman lost $10,000 to a scammer. She got a text allegedly from Chase bank, informing her of a Walmart purchase and asking for a confirmation request. When she responded that she didn’t know about it, she received a call from a Chase representative. He said he needed to secure her account and sent her a verification pin. He also provided the correct last four digits of the victim’s Social Security number. While still on the phone, the victim opened her Chase banking app and changed her password. The man on the other end noticed this and finished things up, ending the call. A few seconds later, the victim’s husband got a text from Chase informing him that their joint account had just experienced a $10,600 withdrawal. It turns out that the initial text about the Walmart purchase was fake, as was the Chase rep. The final text from Chase informing the couple that they lost more than $10K was real. The scammer had done his homework. He had the victim’s Social Security number, which could mean he was an employee at Chase or a hacker who got her information from a data breach. He had her phone number and access to her phone, which was how he saw her change her password. Similar scams to this have seen people lose even more money. Through investigations, help from LA Times columnist David Lazarus and contact with authorities, the victim was able to get her $10,600 back.

How to protect yourself

The Better Business Bureau has tips on how to avoid falling victims to scams such as this.

Verify any issue through official websites: If you get a message pertaining to fraud, verify the suspicious activity by logging into your account. You can also contact the bank itself to ask about this. The phone number can be found on the back of your credit and debit cards or on a statement you received in the mail.Safeguard personal information: Don’t give up any personal information when getting an unexpected call. Again, find the correct contact information for your bank before taking any further steps in identifying yourself. Be cautious of links received through texts: Scammers can send texts, spoof websites and login pages and make them look legitimate.

Keep reading

Planning a trip? 5 smart travel tips to keep you safe