Action Fraud is warning the public to remain vigilant against holiday and travel related fraud, as holiday bookings surge, following the Government’s announcement on how lockdown restrictions will be eased.
The national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime and ABTA, The Travel Association, are reminding the public to think twice before handing over their money and personal information when booking holidays this year. In previous years, criminals have targeted unsuspecting holidaymakers booking airline tickets, holiday accommodation and religious pilgrimages.
Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said:
“We are all more eager than ever to go on a holiday and relax with family and friends after the year we’ve all had. However, the surge in holiday bookings provides criminals with an opportunity to defraud innocent people out of a well-deserved break and their hard-earned cash.
“Criminals are increasingly using more sophisticated ways to trick their victims, which is why it’s important that we all do our research when booking a holiday and making travel arrangements. Remember, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”
What is holiday fraud?
Holiday fraud can vary from fake accommodation listings advertising hotels, and self-catering properties that simply don’t exist, to “too good to be true” offers with flights being particularly targeted. Criminals can approach you over the phone, via text, email and social media, offering incredibly cheap deals to tempt you into booking a holiday with them. In reality, the holiday you’ve booked, or parts of it, doesn’t exist at all.
Graeme Buck, ABTA Director of Communications, said:
“As travel restrictions begin to lift millions of us will be looking to book holidays both at home and overseas, which may place pressure on both availability and prices. Fraudsters will take advantage of the fact that customers will be looking for good deals and they use increasingly sophisticated methods to target destinations and times of year when demand is high and availability limited.
“Victims often find out just before they travel or even while on holiday that they have been defrauded, it can then be very difficult and expensive to obtain a legitimate replacement booking. City of London Police, Get Safe Online and ABTA have put together a list of tips to help customers recognise the warning signs of potential fraud which will help customers avoid both potentially significant financial loss and severe disappointment, at a time when getting away on holiday is more important than ever.”
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 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.