Protect Yourself From Holiday Booking Fraud
The Summer is just around the corner and many families will be planning their well earned Summer holiday. The sad reality however is that there are many fraudsters out there who are more than happy to rip you off. Holiday Fraudsters stole roughly £7 million from innocent holidaymakers in 2018; here’s some advice to make sure that number doesn’t increase in 2019.
Fraudsters offer deals that seem too good to be true, often targeting families who are visiting relatives in places such as Africa and the Indian Subcontinent. They will post adverts online with just enough discount on the the usual price to stand out amongst the other offers. The airline tickets never materialise and leave holidaymaker’s out of pocket.
Another popular booking scam takes advantage of the rise of international accommodation exchanges such as those utilised by Airbnb. Fraudsters will often advertise properties that look desirable and professional, only for the actual owner to have no knowledge of their property being advertised.
A sinister fraud that has increased over the last decade or so is the exploitation of religious pilgrimages. Criminals will target people who are making the Hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia by selling them packages that don’t exist. They rely on their victims blaming themselves and being too proud and embarrassed to come forward to report any wrongdoing.
- Do your research! We all love searching for a good bargain but don’t be fooled into handing over your money as soon as you see an abnormally discounted holiday. If it looks too good to be true it often will be.
- Fraud websites are increasingly looking professional and some people may not be able to distinguish between a genuine one from a fake. Check the domain name of the website, look out for any duplications of more well known travel websites. They will make slight changes such as going from .co.uk to .org.
- Reviews are worth their weight. Just because you may have seen one or two 5 star reviews for a travel site does not mean it is a reputable company. If the company has defrauded people in the past then their should be lots and lots of reviews or message boards that will give you the necessary information you need.
- Check for legitimate trade body logos that denote quality and legitimacy, such as ATOL. You can check whether the company is professionally listed on the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) website.
- Do not transfer cash into someone’s bank account. If you pay with a credit card you will be protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. It covers you if your holiday provider goes bust or the holiday does not match up to what was sold.
- If you suspect you have been the victim of holiday booking fraud or any other type of fraud then phone the National Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Centre on 0300 123 204. Or visit their website www.actionfraud.police.uk
The emotional and financial impact of holiday booking fraud can be immense. The loss of money is one thing but paying for a dream trip that never materialises can be a heartbreaking experience for all involved.