Holiday booking fraud is where you pay for a holiday, flight or accommodation that doesn’t exist. You’ve been scammed.
Scammers con unsuspecting travellers and holidaymakers out of millions of pounds each year or leave them stranded with nowhere to stay. The scams are usually through fake websites, sometimes by phone and often started by email.
The most common types of this fraud are:
1. Holiday bookings. The scammers create fake websites that look like reputable companies, but they take your money. It may be weeks or months before you realise there is no holiday.
2. Holiday accommodation without travel. It may only be when you travel to the holiday location that you find it doesn’t exist.
3. Airline Tickets. Scammers take your booking and my even send you what looks like a genuine ticket but when you arrive at the airport you’ll find it’s all fake.
4. Special Events. When a high profile event is taking place that will attract people from around the world – such as the Olympics, or World Championships or the Football World Cup then lots of people look for tickets for the events and accommodation, flights etc. The scammers set up websites that seem genuine but again are completely fake and the customer just loses a lot of money and the chance to attend the event.
5. Timeshares. These were hugely popular in the 80s but these scams still happen today. The scammers use high pressure sales techniques to get you to sign up and often there are free invites to events designed to trap you into buying. Once paid for there’s little you can do to get out of the contract and Timeshares are notoriously difficult to sell.
Tips on How to Avoid Being Scammed
Finding the Holiday/ Travel Offer
One common approach is for scammers to duplicate part of a genuine travel website and copy the photos etc. but use it to get your confidential information. Sometimes they create a website with a very similar domain name to a genuine travel site. E.g. Tomascook.com instead of Thomascook.com .
It’s worth spending time to research the best company to buy from to get your ideal holiday. There are numerous websites that give reviews of businesses and you can learn a great deal from these about the service provided. But beware that some reviews may be untrue.
When entering your personal or payment details online, make sure the site you are booking on is secure i.e. it will have a padlock symbol in the address bar and address beginning https
Where possible, book with a credit card as in the event of a scam, you may be able to claim back through your credit card supplier.
You should never pay by bank transfer as you won’t have any way to get the money back if things go wrong.
Never use a Money Transfer Agent such as Western Union or Moneygram – as these are like giving away cash. Untraceable and hence cannot be refunded.
Check terms and conditions to confirm exactly what you are buying and don’t be afraid to ask questions. A legitimate company will always be able to answer your queries.
You can check the ABTA travel website for further information on holiday fraud.