With the rise in tourism in the country post-COVID, the sector is also witnessing an increase in online travel scams as a significant percentage of travellers have been duped while trying book holidays to save money, a report said on Sunday.
About 51 per cent of Indian respondents have fallen victim to online scams while trying to save money when booking travel, according to the ‘Safer Holidays’ Travel report by McAfee Corp.
The report also revealed that 77 per cent of those who had money stolen have lost up to USD 1,000 (Rs 83,000) before their trip has even begun.
The Safer Holidays Travel report is based on a survey of 7,000 people across seven countries, including 1,010 from India.
The report further revealed that 66 per cent of all Indian vacationers said they will travel domestically this year and 42 per cent will do so internationally.
In today’s economic environment, Indian adults are more likely to seek out a bargain deal online (54 per cent), move quickly to snap up a deal (50 per cent), try a new booking site (44 per cent) and even a new destination (47 per cent), in order to save money, said the report.
Travel scams can take many forms, with the report finding 27 per cent of Indians have been tricked into making payments through fraudulent platforms and 36 per cent have had their identity stolen when booking online.
Of this portion, 13 per cent entered passport information and 23 per cent provided other personally identifiable information to a fake website, it said.
The report said that people have engaged in several activities that could put them at increased risk of crime while travelling — like connecting to Wi-Fi networks, using a free USB charging port at an airport or train station, or leaving their digital account logged in after checking out of their accommodation.
Even as people are aware of the dangers, 46 per cent respondents think their personal information is less secure when they connect to the internet while on vacation, only 61 per cent make use of any services to monitor the safety of their online identity, and 33 per cent don’t use a VPN while on vacation.
Overall, the report found that 59 per cent of Indians are more concerned about digital threats than physical ones, such as being pickpocketed, and 94 per cent hold either some or high concern around their identity being compromised as part of their travel.
Despite this, 31 per cent admitted to being less security conscious when on holiday, it said.
The risk doesn’t stop travellers from engaging in the behaviour as chatting with friends and family is the most common online activity for people to use their phones for while on vacation (70 per cent), the report said.
The use of social media is also common (69 per cent), followed by online banking (52 per cent) and sending money via cash apps (41 per cent), it added.