Holidays are back! After months of restrictions, today (May 17) marks the return of foreign travel to a handful of destinations. But beware: don't allow scammers to turn your dream holiday into a nightmare.
On Friday, May 7, Secretary of State for Transport Grant Schapps announced a list of destinations to which holiday-eager Brits could travel from May 17 without having to quarantine.
Destinations on the 'Green List' may have left some people Googling the location (Tristan da Cunha anyone?) and others were left with furrowed brows (hello, The Falkland Islands), but never the less, holidays could resume.
And with popular summer destinations like Portugal and Gibraltar on that list, a surge in bookings was recorded by travel companies. And as hotels, guest houses and B&Bs in Britain open their doors too, people were given the go-ahead to book that much-needed weekend away, as normality slowly edges closer.
But as we search for the best deals on the web, now that we know where we can go, cyber criminals know that we’re looking too, and they know that we’re desperate to depart.
So, as you scour the web for that all-inclusive trip to St Helena (anyone?), it’s worth being cyber savvy and armed with the knowledge of how to spot a holiday scam.
Action Fraud, ABTA and Get Safe Online have published advice on how to avoid becoming a victim of holiday booking fraud - and on how victims should go about reporting it.
Below is a list of safety measures to be mindful of...
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 research: Don’t just rely on one review - do a thorough online search to 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.
Look for the logo: Check whether the company is a member of a recognised trade body such as ABTA. If you have any doubts, you can verify membership of ABTA online, at www.abta.com.
Pay safe: Wherever possible, pay by credit card and be wary about paying directly into a private individual’s bank account.
Check paperwork: You should study receipts and invoices as well as terms and conditions. Be very wary of any companies that don’t provide any at all. When booking through a Holiday Club or Timeshare, get the contract thoroughly vetted by a solicitor before signing up.
Use your instincts: If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Report it: Victims should contact Action Fraud via www.actionfraud.police.uk.
Get free expert advice: For further advice on how to stay safe when booking or researching travel online, go to Get Safe Online
Further reading: Holiday Scams via www.takefive-stopfraud.org.uk
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).