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Australian travel insurance company Fast Cover is urging Aussies heading to Canada for the snow season to beware of a new round of online scams. The latest online scams include websites and phishing emails that coax travelers into paying exorbitant application fees for fake visas and guaranteed entry into Canada.
“No one can guarantee entry into a country and travelers should be especially wary of any websites or agents that claim to do so,” says Fast Cover CEO Dean Van Es.
The scam websites often have application forms designed to capture passport details and other personal information such as employment history and credit card details.
“Not only are travelers being scammed into paying for fake visas, but they’re handing over sensitive information and risking identity theft or fraud as well,” Mr Van Es says.
Canada is an especially popular working holiday destination for young Australians, and many have taken to travel forums like TripAdvisor to share their experiences and warn others.
Most travelers complain of losing a few hundred dollars to these scams, but some victims have reportedly made it as far as the airport immigration counter before being informed their working permits are invalid.
Travel insurance is a prerequisite for IEC candidates to cover emergency medical treatment, hospitalisation and repatriation, and may offer additional benefits such as cover for lost or stolen travel documents.
However, Mr Van Es wants to remind travelers that some policies may exclude cover if travelers fail to obtain a legitimate visa.
“Travel insurance may not cover your return flight or any cancellation expenses if you’re turned back at the border because of a dodgy visa,” says Mr Van Es.
“We want our travelers to have an amazing experience overseas, so it’s important to make sure your documents are valid,” Mr Van Es says.
How to Protect Yourself From Online Scams:
Make sure your web browser is up to date to help detect fake websites.
Beware of any unsolicited emails from strangers.
Don’t click any links in emails – retype the website manually into your address bar or search the company name in Google, as email links may redirect you to fake websites.
Check that the website address begins with ‘https’ and there is a padlock icon in the browser address bar to indicate the website is secure before you enter any sensitive information such as contact information, passport details, passwords and credit card details.
Government representatives will never offer special deals or ask you to deposit money into a personal bank account or use a private money transfer service.
The Canadian High Commission advises travellers to use only the official Government of Canada website for online visa applications, and to be cautious of other sites that appear legitimate.
If in doubt, contact the relevant consulate or embassy before you do anything.
Dean Van Es – CEO of Fast Cover
ABOUT FAST COVER:
Fast Cover was launched in Sydney in 2010 to provide high quality travel insurance that Australians actually need. Policies are underwritten by Allianz Australia, part of the global Allianz Group which is one of the leading providers of insurance and emergency assistance worldwide. To learn more visit: fastcover.com.au