One of the keys to avoiding losing money on a holiday is understanding the different ways you could possibly be caught out.
According to ABTA, the most common types of fraud for holiday bookers are online bookings through fake websites, fake holiday accommodation, fake airline tickets and fraudulent package holidays, particularly for big events like the World Cup.
Scammers will often create a bogus website or email address and lure holiday bookers into providing card details in exchange for non-existent hotel rooms, villas, currency, visas, excursions or services.
Top tips to help avoid holiday booking fraud
- Always check for reviews if you can and don’t just rely on testimonials on the site. TripAdvisor and Booking.com are just two options for accommodation reviews and if you search online for the property or service provider you should be able to find other reviews to ensure credibility. If people have had bad experiences, it’s likely someone will have posted a warning online.
- Try to remember that if a deal seems too be good to be true, there's a possibility that it’s not genuine. Feel free to question and double check to ensure reliability by calling on the phone, although don't rely solely on this – some scammers are careful to cover all bases and may be quite convincing on the phone.
- Most legitimate companies should be part of a trade body, such as ABTA or ATOL. These will ensure that holiday companies adhere to guidelines and will prove their credibility online (e.g. http://abta.com/go-travel/before-you-travel/find-a-member).
- Check the web address is correct – sometimes fraudsters will use slightly different URLs to major companies in order to trick buyers (e.g. by using .org instead of .co.uk)
- Check when using private lettings sites to ensure they have thorough T&Cs and make sure you're covered for any fraudulent activity that may take place.
- Know that you should NEVER be charged for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) – some copycat sites have been known to charge as much as £14.99 for these. Always go through official channels (www.ehic.org.uk) to make sure you’re not getting ripped off.
- Likewise with overseas visas – when possible, go through sites recommended by your embassy or search for reviews of visa sites to ensure their authenticity and that you're not being heavily overcharged.
- When possible, pay with a credit card so you can ensure proper protection Many fraudulent service providers will request direct bank transfers, which means the money will be untraceable and can’t be claimed back.
What to do if you’ve been a victim of fraud
Always report the incident as soon as possible so that the appropriate authorities can prevent the same happening to anyone else. You can do this by:
- Contacting Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk or calling 0300 1232040
- Reporting the fraud to your card issuer if you paid on a credit card or secure debit card
- Or you can call the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 – it's completely anonymous