People booking holidays are being warned to watch out for scammers, amid concerns that cost-of-living pressures may push them towards taking more risks with their cash. Fake holiday scams are rife, but how do you spot them?
Holiday fraudsters can lure people into paying by bank transfer using fake but convincing holiday adverts as well as via bogus websites and phone calls. Rising living costs generally may make people more vulnerable to scams as they search for less expensive deals.
Why we could fall victim to fake holiday scams
A quarter (25%) of people said they will not be able to afford a holiday if they cannot get a good deal, rising to 30% of 18 to 34-year-olds, according to a survey of 2,000 people across the UK carried out by Opinium in December. One in six (16%) said they would be willing to book impulsively as soon as they were offered a cheaper price. And 15% admitted they would risk paying directly via bank transfer if they thought it would save them money.
Tony Neate, CEO at Get Safe Online, said: “Trust your instincts and remember: if a deal looks too good to be true, then it probably is.”
So, here is some advice to help you avoid the pitfalls of fake holiday scams this summer.
How to avoid fake holiday scams
1. Never click on links that you are not expecting. This means any that have come from unsolicited emails. These bogus links may take you to a fake website designed to imitate companies you are familiar with. If you do follow links rather than go directly to a website, check the url is legitimate and that it has the lock symbol next to it to show it is secure.
2. Be wary of unusually cheap deals or high deposits. If a deal or offer seems too good to be true, it could be a scammer and it is best to end all communication immediately. We all love a bargain, but when something is ridiculously cheap we need to resist the temptation to snap it up. Take a step back and check how legitimate it is.
3. Paying by credit card can give you added protections if something goes wrong. Under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, someone may be able to raise a claim with the credit provider if the trader lets them down. This provides some level of protection in the case of fake holiday scams.
4. Check whether the company involved is a member of trade association Abta (Association of British Travel Agents). It might say so on the website, but check with Abta if you have any suspicions. Holidaymakers booking flights may want to check coverage under the Atol (Air Travel Organisers Licence) financial protection scheme.
What to do if you’ve been scammed
If you believe you are a scam victim, contact Action Fraud (phone 0300 123 2040) your bank. There is a chance that victims could get all or some of their money back after fake holiday scams. However, you need to talk to your bank and the authorities. Organisations like the Citizens’ Advice Bureau might be able to help.
Have you ever been caught by a holiday scam? Leave a Comment below