It makes for sober reading. Recent figures from Action Fraud report that holidaymakers ripped off by booking scams rose by almost a fifth last year. There were 5,826 reported cases in 2016, up 19 per cent on the previous year,
And the most common scams are related to airline tickets and bogus accommodation bookings, with victims losing, on average, around £1,200. While 26 per cent of those affected said the fraud had also had a significant impact on their health or financial well-being.
This type of fraud is devastating – imagine turning up the airport, after months of planning, to be told you have a fake airline ticket? Or arrive at your accommodation in the a foreign country only to discover the property doesn’t exist, or there is no booking under your name. This is the stuff of nightmares, but now it seems, an all too common occurrence.
With scammers upping the ante and using even more sophisticated methods to trap their victims, from fake internet sites (with some replicating genuine businesses) and bogus adverts on social media, how do you spot the authentic from the phony? I’ve compiled some tips to help protect you from these fraudsters…
Book a holiday directly with an airline or hotel, or through a reputable agent. You can also check whether they’re a member of the Association of British Travel Agents.
Thoroughly check the company’s credentials. If a company is defrauding people there is a good chance that consumers will post details of their experiences, and warnings about the company. Also check plenty of reviews – don’t just trust one or two.
Use your debit/credit card
Be extremely wary of paying directly into a bank account – as bank transfers are non-refundable. Use a debit or credit card for extra protection.
Protect yourself online
• Don’t book on websites that don’t have a padlock icon (https) in the address bar.
• Check if the company is a member of a recognised trade body such as ABTA.
• Don’t reply to unsolicited emails, texts, social media or calls with holiday offers. Links and attachments in emails may lead to malicious websites or download viruses.
Trust your instincts
If the price is too good to be true, then it probably is. If details, images or the address of the property or hotel look suspicious, or independent website reviews aren’t favourable or don’t exist, then steer clear.