51% Indians have fallen victim to online travel scams when booking travel: Report

A report on Safer Holiday Travel has revealed Indian insights with facts and figures on how Indians are affected by online travel scams – how safe it is to plan and book travel online.

online booking laptop 51% Indians have fallen victim to online travel scams when booking travel: Report
Online travel scams can take many forms

The research reveals that 51% of Indian adults have fallen victim to online travel scams while trying to save money when booking travel. Highest globally, 61% of Indian travellers are the most concerned about their devices being compromised while travelling. 77% of those who had money stolen lost up to $1,000 (~INR 83,000) before their trip has even begun.

66% of all Indian vacationers will travel domestically this year and 42% will do so internationally. With inflation and the cost-of-living crisis, the research reveals new concerns for leisure-seekers who, in their quest for a good deal, may be more likely to fall for a scam.

These are findings from a new ‘Safer Holidays’ Travel Report by McAfee Corp that surveyed 7,000 people across seven countries to discover how many have fallen victim to online travel scams when interacting with digital tools while travelling abroad.

With 93% of Indians booking travel online this year, it can be easy to get lured into a deal that’s too good to be true. In today’s economic environment, Indian adults are more likely to seek out a bargain deal online (54%), move quickly to snap up a deal (50%), try a new booking site (44%) and even a new destination (47%), in order to save money. However, travel seekers need to stay vigilant to avoid falling for a scam.

images 3 51% Indians have fallen victim to online travel scams when booking travel: Report
Online travel scams can take many forms

Online travel scams can take many forms, with the research finding 27% of Indian adults have been tricked into making payments through fraudulent platforms and 36% have had their identity stolen when booking online. Of this portion, 13% entered passport information and 23% provided other personally identifiable information to a fake website.

In total, 59% of Indians are more concerned about digital threats than physical ones, such as being pickpocketed, and 94% of Indian adults hold either some or high concern about their identity being compromised as part of their travel.

Despite this, 31% admitted to being less security conscious when on holiday. Whether it’s connecting to Wi-Fi networks even though they look a bit suspicious (38%), using a free USB charging port at an airport or train station (34%), or leaving their Netflix account logged in after checking out of their accommodation (29%), significant numbers of people have engaged in activities that could put them at increased risk of crime while travelling.  

It’s not that people are unaware of the dangers either. While 46% of people think their personal information is less secure when they connect to the internet while on vacation, only 61% make use of any services to monitor the safety of their online identity, and 33% don’t use a VPN while on vacation. Of those that do, 28% only do so because they want to stream geo-specific content.

Knowing the risks doesn’t stop travellers from engaging in the behaviour. While chatting with friends and family is the most common online activity for people to use their phones for while on vacation (70%), the use of social media is also common (69%), followed by online banking (52%) and sending money via cash apps (41%).

Of course, it’s not just adults that use the internet while travelling, with 77% of respondents saying that their children spend time online, too. The relaxed attitude also applies to the kids, with 49% of parents saying they’re either less vigilant when it comes to monitoring their children’s internet use while on vacation or only do so when at home.

51% Indians have fallen victim to online travel scams when booking travel: Report
51% Indians have fallen victim to online travel scams when booking travel: Report

How to Protect Yourself from Online Travel Scams

  • Think before you click. Cybercriminals use phishing emails or fake sites to lure people into clicking links that could lead to malware. If you receive an email asking you to click on a link, even if the travel deal sounds great, it’s best to avoid interacting with the message altogether. Always go directly to the source and book with reputable companies.
  • Connect with caution. Be cautious when connecting to public Wi-Fi while on vacation and make sure the Wi-Fi is secure and attached to a trusted source. Use a virtual private network (VPN) to keep your connection secure and to protect your personal data and activity as you bank, shop, and browse online.
  • Check before you book. When confirming if a privately-owned vacation rental is legitimate, check the name of the property owner in public records. Don’t pay for rentals by wire transfer, prepaid cards or gift cards. These types of transactions often can’t be reversed if the rental offer is fraudulent.
  • Use a holistic security solution with identity and privacy protection. From identifying malicious sites before booking, use of VPN, to identity theft protection that safeguards and monitors for personally identifiable information, a holistic security solution can give you peace of mind during your travel.

Survey Methodology

The survey was conducted by market research agency MSI Research between April 13 and April 19, 2023. An online questionnaire was completed by a sample of 7,054 adults aged 18 and over from seven countries. The sample size completed per country is as follows: 1,009 respondents in the US; 1,009 respondents in the UK; 1,007 respondents in France; 1,007 respondents in Germany; 1,004 respondents in Japan; 1,008 respondents in Australia; 1,010 respondents in India.

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