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Holiday fraud

Bogus holiday fraud involves scams that sell you holidays at very low prices - but there’s always a catch.

A fraudulent travel company places adverts for holidays – detailing flights, hotel bookings etc. – on the internet, Ceefax or Teletext. The holidays are advertised at incredibly low prices. The adverts refer you to telephone numbers and/or a website to book your holiday. After booking, you’re sent documents with travel and accommodation details.

In reality, either your holiday doesn’t exist at all or you’ll only get part of what you paid for. For example: you get your flight but no accommodation. Instead, the fraudster has pocketed your money.

Are you a victim of bogus holiday fraud?

  • You’ve received an email, phone call or letter with details of a holiday to a fantastic destination but at a very low price.
  • You’ve paid for the holiday but discover it doesn’t actually exist.

What you should do if you’ve been a victim of bogus holiday fraud

  • Report it to Action Fraud.
  • If the company is a member of a trade body such as ABTA, report the fraud to them.
  • If you paid for the holiday using your credit card, report the fraud to your card issuer.

Protect yourself against bogus holiday fraud

  • Check for full company details in adverts and on web sites. Find the company’s name and full postal address then check that it actually exists.
  • Keep an eye out for bad spelling and grammar – this is often a sign of a fraudulent organisation.
  • If the company has recently been set up or has recently changed hands - this could be another sign of fraud – especially if they are also offering unfeasibly low prices.
  • If an advert refers to membership of a trade body or consumer protection scheme such as ABTA, make sure the membership is genuine.
  • Beware of traders who encourage you to pay in cash, by not accepting credit card payments or by charging high credit card fees.
  • Make sure the travel and accommodation details on your paperwork match the ones you booked.
  • Don’t be tempted by holidays and flights advertised at prices that are too good to be true – because they often will be too good to be true.

Booking accommodation

  • The safest way to protect yourself from booking bogus accommodation is to book directly with an established hotel or through a reputable travel company.
  • If using a travel company ensure they are a member of a trade body such as ABTA, the Travel Association or the Air Travel Organisers Licensing, (ATOL).
  • If you decide to book independently you should exercise caution. Establish if you are dealing directly with the property owner or a letting agent.
  • Research the property or hotel that you are booking - verify that the address exists through web searches and online maps. Do the images match those on the advert? Check whether there are any reviews for the accommodation from previous visitors.
  • If dealing with the property owner ask them about the property and the area in detail. Can you confirm that what they tell you is accurate from your own research?    
  • Research any agent that you are dealing with via an online search engine.  Are there any reviews of the website or agent?  Ask what checks the agent makes on the properties that they are advertising and its owner?  Does the website use the padlock symbol to indicate the site is secure?
  • When paying for accommodation never pay by cash or use a Money Transfer Agent such as Western Union or Moneygram as these are not intended for commercial payments.
  • If possible pay by credit card as this may protect your payment. 
  • Always check the terms and conditions to confirm exactly what you are being sold. Double check your booking before travel, particularly if there is a long gap between making the booking and arrival.
  • Be aware that fraudulent adverts do exist. If you have any doubts do not book it!   

If fraud has been committed, report it to Action Fraud.