As the summer approaches, Police crime watchdog Action Fraud is urging people to be on the lookout for so-called ‘holiday fraud’, which could cost unsuspecting holidaymakers dear.
In a public warning issued on 10 April 2018, the watchdog revealed that as many as 4,700 unsuspecting holidaymakers lost a staggering £6.7 million to holiday fraud in 2017. Many even found themselves facing bankruptcy as a result of the significant losses they incurred.
According to the group’s report, the average victim lost £1,500 to the likes of bogus hotel bookings, fake flight tickets and discount package holiday offers which looked – and indeed turned out to be – too good to be true.
As the weather heats up and Britons begin piecing their holiday plans together for the summer, it is important to be aware of these types of scams – and to watch out for the warning signs of a ‘fake’ holiday.
Action Fraud advises that those booking holidays online are particularly at risk and should always check that a travel operator’s website is legitimate before making a purchase.
Consumers should be aware that fraudsters are capable of ‘duplicating’ entire websites and launching them on similar domains – therefore fake sites can be difficult to spot.
For example, while ‘www.thomascook.com’ is a genuine Thomas Cook website, scammers could easily latch on to ‘www.thomascook.org.uk’ in their efforts to part unsuspecting internet users from their hard-earned cash.
Action Fraud adds that it is important to “do a thorough online search to check the company’s credentials,” particularly if the company or hotel appears to be an independent operator and does not have an instantly-recognisable brand name. It is worth cross-referencing whether the organisation is registered with the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), too.
Meanwhile, those booking accommodation online should look at reviews websites such as TripAdvisor to read about the experiences of other travellers. If considering booking a suspiciously-cheap hotel, for example, finding out that it has no TripAdvisor presence whatsoever could be a clear indicator that something is not quite right.
Finally, it is important to always pay by credit card where possible, so that consumers have additional protection if any unexpected issues occur. In some cases, bold fraudsters have encouraged holidaymakers to pay for flights, hotels and more by transferring money into their private bank accounts, Action Fraud says.
Anyone who stumbles across a scam while browsing the web should report it immediately here.