The ads for summer 2024 holidays have crept onto our socials and online already. But buyer beware! Scammers will try to take advantage of our desire to get away and catch people out with fake offers and deals. Let’s take a look at how we can combat scams.
As the summer holidays come to a close, you may be thinking of booking for next year already. It's often cheaper to take advantage of an early booking, and it gives people something to look forward to.
Online adverts and social promotions may catch your eye with their idyllic illustrations of beautiful white sandy beaches, sublime sunsets, adrenaline-filled adventures and perfect poolside poses, like the one above perhaps!
But before you're lured in by that bikini-clad woman and buff bloke walking hand-in-hand on the beach, and begin to click on all those lovely-looking ads, there are some things you should know, and signs to look out for, because holiday fraud and ruthless scammers are out there to turn your dream holiday into a nightmare!
Here are some simple but important steps you can take to avoid holiday fraud.
Look out for fake deals on accommodation and travel
Scammers create realistic travel websites and listings with fake holiday offers. They may contact you directly by email, text or phone call. They’ll try and trick you into:
Paying for accommodation that doesn’t exist or is already full
Buying fake travel tickets
Entering your details on a fraudulent website.
Be vigilant when paying for your holiday and only use the payment options shown on the company’s official website. Always book with a company you’ve researched and never open links in unexpected emails and texts. If something looks too good to be true, it usually is.
Watch out for ticket scams
Scammers can make websites that mimic real ones and sell fake tickets at seemingly bargain prices. It can be tempting, especially if the ones you want are very expensive or have sold out.
You could pay and - either don’t get a ticket - or you get a fake one that will be refused when you try to use it at the event.
Always do your research and check a provider is genuine before buying. Check the URL of a website for special characters, numbers or foreign characters in place of letters. Some scams really are clever in how they can mimic a website simply by using a different character in the URL, which is sometimes very hard to notice.
Don’t be tempted by quick cash
Be wary if someone offers to pay you to help them move money. If money goes in and out of your account from illegal activity, you’re a ‘money mule’ and that’s a crime. Never help anyone move money or give them access to your account.
Protect your tech
Criminals sneak malicious software, or ‘malware’, onto your devices to steal information like passwords and payment details. They hide it in emails and apps so you don’t realise you’re downloading it.
To avoid getting malware:
Only get apps from the official app store for your device
Don’t open links in unexpected emails and texts
Keep your device’s software up to date, so you always have the latest security features.
In a nutshell: Tops tip to avoid falling victim to holiday fraud
Stay safe online: Check the web address is legitimate and has not been altered by slight changes to a domain name - such as going from co.uk to .org.
Do your own research: Booking your trip via a company you haven’t used before? Do some research to check they're legitimate. Read feedback from sources that you trust, such as consumer websites. You can find a company’s official website by searching for them on Google or another trusted search engine.
Look for the logo: Check whether the company is an ABTA Member. Look for the ABTA logo on the company's website. If you have any doubts, you can verify membership of ABTA online on their website. If you're booking a flight as part of a package holiday and want more information about ATOL protection, or would like to check whether a company is an ATOL holder, visit the ATOL or CAA website.
Pay safe: Book your holiday with a credit card, if you have one. Most major credit card providers protect online purchases, and are obliged to refund you in certain circumstances. Using a credit card (rather than a debit card) also means that if your payment details are stolen, your main bank account won’t be directly affected
Check the paperwork: You should read through the terms and conditions, and be wary of any company that doesn’t provide any at all. When booking through a holiday club or timeshare, get the contract thoroughly vetted by a solicitor before signing up.
Trust your instincts: If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t be lured in to what you think is a bargain holiday.
Secure your email: If your email is hacked, it could allow a criminal to access information about your holiday booking. Use 3 randoms words to create a strong password for your email that’s different to all your other passwords. If you’re offered 2-step verification to protect your email and social media accounts, always use it.
For a full list of tips to avoid becoming a victim of fraud, please visit https://www.atol.org/about-atol/how-to-check-for-protection/ or https://www.abta.com/tips-and-advice/planning-and-booking-a-holiday/how-avoid-travel-related-fraud.
If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040, or call Police Scotland on 101.
For further reading on holiday fraud, check out our other blogs.
Report all Fraud and Cybercrime to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online. Forward suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Report SMS scams by forwarding the original message to 7726 (spells SPAM on the keypad).