Five key rules to follow when booking a holiday to avoid being scammed
Holidaymakers eager for their first summer break in three years are falling victim to clever scammers and losing thousands of pounds.
Analysis by Lloyds Bank showed holiday booking fraud was up by a third compared to the same time last year, with victims losing a shocking amount of money if they fell prey to the conmen.
The average amount of money lost per booking was:
- Flight only deals: £2,955
- Package holidays: £2,342
- Hotel only bookings: £1,231
- Caravan short stays: £374.
According to the bank, many scams start with false adverts on search engines or social media, which victims often click on a link. This takes them to a website and they believe they are dealing with a legitimate company. Some cheeky scammers even lurk on real accommodation listing sites, convincing victims to transfer cash directly to them rather than through the official booking platform.
Liz Ziegler, fraud prevention director at Lloyds Bank, said: “Now that most pandemic restrictions have come to an end, many of us will be looking forward to a more traditional summer holiday this year. But with demand soaring and prices rising fast, would-be holidaymakers can’t afford to let their guard down when hunting for the best deals. Scammers are ready to cash in on any last-minute surge in bookings, so it’s vital that consumers know how to stay safe.”
Stop a holiday scammer in their tracks by following these five rules:
1. Are you being offered your holiday at a bargain-basement price? Often fraudsters put adverts for fake holidays on social media and the internet or they send an offer by email or text pretending to be from a real company. If the deal is noticeably cheaper than elsewhere, be on your guard.
2. Scrutinise the company’s contact details. Is there an address and a working phone number? Can you easily get through to customer service and do they get back to you? Is there an online chat facility on the website? A lack of contact details or unresponsive staff could indicate a scam.
3. Is your holiday protected? Take your time when placing a booking and make sure you are financially covered if anything happens. by ensuring it is ABTA or ATOL protected. Packages holidays should be covered by ATOL, and you can check by finding the reference number on it and then inserting this or the name of the travel company into the ATOL database. If you are not travelling on a package holiday, the process is the same for ABTA as it is for ATOL, so you just need to input the five digit reference number or the company’s name into the ABTA database.
4. Protect how you pay. The safest way to pay for a holiday is via debit or credit card. If you’re being asked to pay another way, such as via a bank or wire transfer, it could be a scam. If you pay this way and things go wrong, you’re less likely to get your money back. Paying by credit card or debit card through a legitimate company will give you more rights.
5. If you think you’ve been scammed, act quickly. End all communication immediately, and call your bank directly to cancel any recurring payment. Report the scam to the police through Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, or report a scam anonymously on the Action Fraud website. For further help, contact Citizens Advice Scams Action via the Citizens Advice website, or call its Scams Action helpline on 0808 250 5050.
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