Public warned against Semana Santa scams

(Photo from Negative Space/Pexel)
(Photo from Negative Space/Pexel)

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- The Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center or CICC has warned the public against scams targeting tourists and travelers during the observance of Semana Santa this year.

During a press conference, the CICC said that the public should recognize scams and other criminal activities.

The agency issued the warning to allow the people to safeguard themselves during the long weekend from March 28 (Maundy Thursday) till March 31 (Easter Sunday) and the entire Lenten and summer vacation season.

The CICC, headed by Executive Director and Undersecretary Alexander Ramos, identified 14 different scams that the public should be vigilant of.

These include fake accommodations like villas, apartments and hotel rooms that are advertised at “unbelievably low rates” but are actually non-existent.

The agency advised travelers to book accommodations with reputable agencies or websites, verify reviews, and to speak directly with the owner or hotel.

It also warned against malicious public Wi-Fis that steal personal information, too-good-to-be-true deals, "free vacation" scams, fake travel agents, overpriced tours, charity cons, lost luggage sold on Facebook, fake SIM cards and cheap airline tickets sold on social media.

The CICC also mentioned counterfeit cash, hidden closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in accommodations, taxis that do not have a meter and would instead charge excessive fees, and fixers of any kind.

The agency the public should always try and verify who they are dealing with, especially with online transactions, which prey on hapless victims during such occasions.

“It is important to be alert, to look out for these potential scams. And I'm really very happy that we have more agencies taking an active part against scams,” Ramos said.

He said that several government agencies in the cybercrime, law enforcement, transportation and tourism sectors are working together to increase the presence of their personnel to safeguard tourists.

The CICC information campaign against these scams will be rolled out in bus stations, seaports, trains, airports, and other transportation and tourism hubs through the help of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), the Department of Tourism, and the Philippine National Police.

The public is encouraged to report travel scams to CICC’s 1326 hotline, or to reach out to the DOTr for any travel concerns through its commuter hotline at 0920 964 3687.


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