Whether you are studying abroad or traveling for work, there are lots of opportunities to see the world while at FSU. However, travelers are often targets for travel scams and cybersecurity risks. Before you jet off on your trip, educate yourself on potential cyberthreats you may encounter while traveling and secure your devices before you leave home.
You have probably received a call or email saying you have won a “free” vacation. However, the scammers will try to get you to pay special fees or taxes to claim your fake prize. If you never entered a contest, do not respond to these contacts.
Vacation Home Scams
Scammers sometimes hijack rental listings and advertise them as their own, or worse, use fake photos and reviews for a fake property. Pay careful attention to web addresses and make sure you are booking with reputable companies.
International Document Scams
Beware of companies or websites that offer to help you secure a passport, travel visa or international driving permit. Many of these sites are copycats of the real U.S. Department of State.
Credit Card Skimmers
Skimmers are discreet devices that can be installed on any machine where you scan your credit card, such as an ATM or gas pump. Always do a quick visual and physical inspection before you insert or tap your card. Feel around the card reader and wiggle it to see if it easily comes out of place, thus exposing a card skimmer.
Thieves often target travelers. Unattended laptops or cellphones are ripe for the taking, and devices poking out of bags or back pockets create an easy target. Be especially aware in large crowds, or if you feel someone bump into you.
The list of travel-related scams is extensive. While we have hit on common scams related to cybersecurity, it is important to educate yourself of all potential hazards before you travel. From pickpocketing to taxi scams, it is imperative to stay alert while on your trip.
If a vacation rental or transportation service costs much less than comparable services, it may be a scam.
When booking a vacation, make sure you have a detailed description of what you are purchasing. If listings hint at a “five-star resort” or “luxury accommodations” without specifying a property name or address, walk away.
If you are asked to pay for your travel bookings by wire transfer, gift cards or cryptocurrency, do not complete the purchase. Scammers use these methods of payment because they are difficult to trace and offer no buyer protection.
Watch out for unsecure, public wireless networks or hotspots while you are traveling. Connecting to one of these networks may put your data at risk by allowing cybercriminals to access your device and network.
Avoid using computers in hotel lobbies, cyber cafes or other public places. These devices are prime targets for malicious software, such as keyloggers, which capture keystrokes and send passwords, credit card numbers and other personal data to cybercriminals.
Back up your devices to a cloud service or other device before traveling
Ensure your apps and operating system are up to date before you travel
Lock your devices with a pin number or password
Install a privacy screen protector on your devices to restrict visibility
Disable automatic Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection
Use your mobile network connection instead of a public Wi-Fi network
Install a virtual private network (VPN) on your device to ensure a secure connection to any network
Never leave your device unattended on an airplane, in a hotel room or elsewhere while traveling
Change any passwords you used during your travels
What to do
If you are the victim of a travel scam:
- Contact the local police
- If you suspect your FSU account has been hacked, follow these steps to secure your account
- If you suspect credit card fraud, call the number on the back of your card or check your credit card company’s mobile app to see if you can lock or freeze access to your card
- If an FSU laptop or mobile device is lost or stolen, contact your department’s IT support or report the loss to the ITS Service Desk
- Report the travel scam to the Federal Trade Commission at reportfraud.ftc.gov
FSU Travel Policies
Familiarize yourself with FSU travel policies for students, faculty and staff before traveling internationally
Cybersecurity Tips for International Travelers
Follow these cybersecurity tips for before, during and after your international travel
Learn how to recognize and respond to travel scams with these resources from the Cybercrime Support Network