Holiday club fraud is when you are told you’ve won a ‘free’ holiday or are pressured into signing a contract for a holiday club. Both can be scams for a bogus holiday club.
You’re offered a free holiday and, to claim your prize, all you need to do is attend a presentation (usually at a plush hotel) to learn more about a new holiday venture.
You’re often told that you have to stay until the end of the presentation, which is often deliberately long and you may also be offered free champagne or other alcohol.
The brochures will look glossy and convincing and you’ll be made to feel as if you’re joining an exclusive holiday club offering top-class accommodation all over the world.
Although the presentation and brochure are persuasive, you later discover that your ‘free’ holiday isn’t free. Instead, you will be asked to pay for flights and other add-ons.
You’ll also be asked to sign a contract at the end of the presentation. If you’ve been there for a long time and have drunk alcohol, you may not think it through properly.
What the bogus holiday club says in its sales pitch and what the contract stipulates could be very different.
When you wish to book holidays, you may also discover that destinations are neither guaranteed, nor available when you want them.
Protect yourself against 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 research: don’t just rely on one review – do a thorough online search to ensure the company is credible. 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 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 If you're booking a flight and want more information about ATOL protection, or would like to check whether a company is an ATOL holder, visit the CAA website.
- Pay safe: wherever possible, pay by credit card and be wary about paying directly into a private individual’s bank account.
- Check the paperwork: you should study receipts, invoices and terms and conditions, and 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.
- Get free expert advice: for further advice on how to stay safe when booking or researching travel online, go to Get Safe Online.
For a full list of tips to avoid becoming a victim of fraud, please visit 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.